Manitoba Historical Society
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The Establishment of Manitoba’s First Provincial Government

by F. A. Milligan

MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1948-49 Season

This article was published originally in MHS Transactions by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Some of Canada's provinces were acquired by adoption. On others the status was conferred after a rigorously supervised apprenticeship. Manitoba was simply conjured into being.

The institutional origins of the Province are unique. The five eastern colonies and British Columbia entered Confederation in full possession of the necessary machinery of government. For several decades before Alberta and Saskatchewan gained provincial status, their political institutions had been moving steadily towards the forms appropriate to that status. But the Province of Manitoba, after being legally created, had to be actually made.

The instrument of creation, the Manitoba Act of 1870, was not so much a blue-print as an architect's drawing: there was to be a Province, made in the image of the older provinces, with a lieutenant-governor, an executive council, a legislature of two chambers, and the necessary hierarchy of administrative officials. None of these things existed; Riel's Provisional Government was only a caretaker authority, and its leaders were persona non grata. Moreover, the authorities in Ottawa could provide only one of these ingredients - the Lieutenant-Governor. To the latter fell the task of designing and erecting the complex machinery of a self-governing province.

On May 15, 1870, the Governor-General, Sir John Young (later Lord Lisgar), telegraphed to Earl Granville: "Mr. Archibald of Nova Scotia is to be Lieutenant-Governor of the North West." [1]

The choice had been made carefully. [2] The unhappy experience of William McDougall in 1869 made the Macdonald ministry cautious. After abandoning McDougall, the Government considered William McTavish, former Governor of Assiniboia, but age and ill-health alone made him unsuitable. Donald A. Smith, who was suggested by Hon. Joseph Howe, might well have had the post, but was unwilling to accept. [3] Instead, he is reported to have urged the claims of Colonel Garnet Wolseley, only to have Sir George Cartier veto them. [4] In the end Cartier carried the day and installed his close friend, Adams George Archibald, after overcoming the latter's reluctance to accept the wilderness post. [5]

Governor Archibald had to take particular account of three circumstances in the local situation. The first of these was the fact of its geographical isolation. One writer has called it an island. Another writes: "It has all the characteristics of a frontier except the essential one of continuity with other settlements ... If a frontier, it was a frontier of anticipation, insulated by wilderness scarcely penetrable, and in consequence stagnant." [6] Or, by another analogy, it was not a wave-crest but a puddle.

The extent of this isolation can be illustrated in terms of communications. By water, when the season permitted, there were two avenues to the world: north to Hudson Bay by York boat to meet the Company ship which visited York Factory each year; or south into Minnesota. The first steamboat from the south, the Anson Northup, appeared at the settlement in 1859, and through the following decade shared the entire length of the Red River from Fort Garry to Georgetown, Minnesota, with the Hudson's Bay Company's International. Through the winter months, even these inadequate communications were interrupted. Mail service, nominally twice-weekly, was erratic and uncertain, with a journey of several weeks from Ottawa; and little of a confidential nature could be entrusted to the service, for in the course of sorting at Pembina the mail was thoroughly pawed and scrutinized by a crowd of post office loafers. [7] The telegraph line, through the United States, was not completed until November, 1871. In face of such isolation, direct control from Ottawa was impossible. It was imperative that the Province be self-sufficient politically.

The second factor affecting Governor Archibald's initial course was the factional bitterness which survived the Red River Insurrection. [8] There were signs that the self-styled "loyalists" - John Christian Schultz and the Canadian pioneers who supported him - would take the law into their own hands in exacting retribution from the Métis leaders. At Fort Garry, in every sense the focal point of the conflict, the warring factions were providentially separated by the Red River. Intercourse across the river was negligible, and for extremists on either side to venture across was the height of folly. The Métis dared not visit the Fort for Archibald's levee of September 6, 1870, and the Governor had to hold a second reception in St. Boniface. [9] That the fears of the Métis were well-founded was demonstrated on September 13. Elzear Goulet, a member of the court-martial which had sentenced Thomas Scott, [10] was recognized in Winnipeg and chased by Canadians; in attempting to escape by swimming the river he was stoned and drowned. [11]

Governor Archibald, occupying the sole point of constituted authority, was the neutral fulcrum of a balance on which both sides exerted their full weight. Each bombarded him with claims and accusations, reinforced in the case of the loyalists by turbulence and spasmodic violence, and in that of the Métis by sullenness and suspicion. In the midst of this turmoil he had somehow to establish and staff the institutions of a self-governing province.

Thirdly, as a result partly of Red River's stagnant isolation, and partly of the Insurrection, the Lieutenant-Governor had to deal with a community that was politically inexperienced and leaderless. The political organization of Assiniboia had been no more complex than the simple needs of the colony dictated, consisting merely of the Governor assisted by a Council which was essentially of his own choosing. Because the Council included members of the Protestant and Catholic clergy, English half-breeds and French half-breeds, as well as Company officers, it has been described as " ... fairly representative of all the interests in the colony." [12] But by no stretch of the imagination could the settlement be said to have possessed self-government. The rule was paternalistic and benevolent, and the majority of settlers, generally satisfied with their static society, were politically inert. Only the aggressive newcomers from Canada, rightly identifying the official policy with the profoundly conservative society of which they were so contemptuous, attacked the authoritarian form of rule by Governor and appointed Council. [13]

Admittedly, the settlement was able to throw up leaders in the emergency of 1869-'70, thanks to Assiniboia's two native institutions the buffalo hunt and the parish. [14] Most of the metis leaders were, in fact, captains of the hunt, 2nd the well-established parish proved a satisfactory basis for representation in Riel's assembly. These two institutions, by themselves, however, were incapable of developing the political sophistication necessary for the working of parties and parliaments. Moreover, the criminal liability of Riel and his associates for the execution of Thomas Scott effectively proscribed them from the political life of the new Province, and necessitated the emergence of new popular leaders as a precondition of responsible self-government.

The deficiency of political experience was one of Governor Archibald's chief problems. [15] Only three of the old inhabitants might be singled out for special mention: Bishop Tache of St. Boniface, spiritual head of the Roman Catholics, whose knowledge of and influence over the Métis was unsurpassed; James McKay, Scots half-breed whose understanding of Indian affairs throughout the entire North-West was to prove invaluable to both Archibald and his successor, Alexander Morris; and Dr. John Christian Schultz, the stormy leader of the loyalists, capable of violence and possibly of treachery, but familiar with the political techniques of self-government, and a useful catalyst in the political education of the new Province.

As it happened, however, Archibald's assumption of office coincided with the arrival in Manitoba of a group of men with extensive political and legal experience.

They were sent, according to at least one report, by Sir George Cartier to provide experienced and moderate leadership for the French-speaking element. [16] Their arrival was hailed by Bishop Tache: "Messrs. Girard, Dubuc, Royal and Clarke have come to us from Canada, and, with such good elements as we may already have, we can hope for representation in our local legislature that will be creditable and probably superior, so that for the present we are not in an inferior position, and throughout the four years of the first Parliament we will be able to secure favorable laws. [17]

These men were all to figure prominently in early Manitoba history: Henry J. H. Clarke, an Irish-born Catholic; Joseph Dubuc, schoolmate and friend of Louis Riel, and friend of Father Ritchot; Marc Amable Girard, a schoolmate of Bishop Tache; and Joseph Royal, like the others a lawyer, and the most brilliant of the quartette. Shortly after, a fifth arrived, Alphonse A. C. LaRiviere, who was to assume the leadership of the French in their struggle against the overwhelming English-speaking immigration. On the whole, it was a remarkable talented lot of "carpet-baggers," and, as events proved, a very useful lot.

Finally, the Dominion Government recognized that local conditions would require Archibald to be a great deal more than a constitutional figure-head. "Sir George Cartier said to me in effect," he reported, "'now that you are going up to the country while its affairs are very unsettled, you must exercise great judgement, and do what you can to preserve the public peace; we have implicit faith in your discretion and good sense.'" [18] Sir John A. Macdonald was even more explicit. "Although you are a Constitutional Sovereign," he instructed Archibald, "it is evidently necessary that, in the present state of affairs, you should be in fact a paternal despot." [19]

It was unnecessary, of course, that this grant of despotic power be given formally. Such absolute authority, is, in fact, inherent in the office of Lieutenant-Governor. While it is normally so overlaid with the conventions of responsible government as to be considered a fictitious power, it is none the less real. Until such time as conditions in Manitoba should permit the conventions of responsible government to emerge, the governor's powers would be relatively unrestrained.

The first step towards establishing a provincial administration was the installation of the Governor himself. Archibald was sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor before the Governor-General in Ottawa on July 23, 1870. [20] After detailed discussions in the capital, he travelled west in the wake of Colonel Wolseley's force, through the Great Lakes and by river and portages from Lake Superior along the "Snow Road." On the morning of September 2 he stepped ashore at Fort Garry, followed thirteen days later by his wife and daughter, and the Governor's residence in the Fort again became the social and political centre of Red River.

Colonel Wolseley and his troops had preceded Archibald by nine days, and as Riel and the other leaders of the Provisional Government had fled, there followed a brief interregnum during which Donald A. Smith was the de facto centre of authority. [21] On September 3 Smith issued a summons to the Council of Assiniboia for a formal surrender of authority to Archibald. [22] The Council met on September 6 and presented an address of welcome in which they pledged their loyalty and support, and assured the new Governor of the loyalty of the people, " ... notwithstanding the events of the past year." [23]

Archibald, in fact, found himself welcomed by all, although with some restraint in certain quarters. Those who did not lend active support from the start contented themselves with a wait-and-see attitude. Alexander Begg asserts that the Schultz party distrusted him because of comment in the Grit papers in the east, which were trying to discredit the Macdonald government. [24] But Dr. Schultz himself, in the first number of his new paper, the News-Letter, revealed no such hostility: "The appearance and manner of the new Governor of Manitoba go a great way toward impressing those with whom he may have come in contact that he is thoroughly capable of bringing about that much to be desired peace and quietness which the province has long been yearning for, and we sincerely trust that as his policy is developed the result will not conflict with first impressions." [25]

At the other extreme, among the Métis, Archibald was known to be a friend of Cartier, and their hopes were high. As early as June 24 the Assembly of the Provisional Government, in its last motion, " ... resolved unanimously that the new Governor be welcomed on his arrival." [26] Louis Riel, in a letter to Bishop Tache (in Ottawa) a month later, wrote: "My deepest respects to Mr. Archibald; we are eagerly awaiting his arrival." [27]

Conscious of the bitter factionalism, the Governor proceeded cautiously. "I found the people of the settlement," he reported to the Secretary of State for the Provinces, "in a state of much excitement, such as would naturally follow the events of the past few months, and I have taken much pains in endeavoring to tranquillize them and lead them to see how important it is to the prosperity of the country, that all the leading men, irrespective of party, should come forward and give me their aid in establishing a Government that can secure the peace of the country on a solid foundation." [28] Of some relief to him was the fact that the Métis leaders had fled. "It is perhaps the best solution," he wrote to Cartier on September 3. "While feeling runs so high here, as it does at present, an attempt at arrest would have been met by resistance, and in the end we would perhaps have had to call out the military, and we would have had a world of trouble, which the absence of these people enables us to escape." [29]

Governor Archibald, for two weeks after his arrival, was the entire government of the Province. It was, as can well be imagined, a fortnight of observing and evaluating, for a misstep at the start might have been disastrous. But the need for organization was pressing, and by the middle of September Archibald felt sufficiently secure to start the process.

The first need was for executive officers to assist him in the initial stages of organization. There was, of course, no legislature from which such officers could be drawn in accordance with the practices of responsible government. Fortunately for Archibald those practices were not mandatory in any legal sense. The Lieutenant-Governor had to consider only his letter of instructions from the Under-Secretary of State for the Provinces, which directed, among other things, that in the initial selection of executive councillors he should appoint only indispensable officers, leaving the other posts vacant until after the election of an Assembly. [30]

Thus, by Letters Patent issued in the Queen's name on September 16, Governor Archibald commissioned the first two administrative officers of Manitoba: Mr. Alfred Boyd as Provincial Secretary and Executive Councillor, and Mr. M. A. Girard as Provincial Treasurer and Executive Councillor. [31] The Governor's report of these appointments to the Secretary of State for the Provinces indicates the considerations that guided him in his choice.

"Thinking it was now time to organize a Government, and that I had become sufficiently acquainted with the people to form some idea of the material out of which this could be formed. I have chosen a man representing each section of the population here, and appointed them members of my Executive Council. Mr. Alfred Boyd is a merchant of good standing here. He is a man of fair abilities, of considerable means, and very popular among the English half-breeds. He was chosen by the Parish of St. Andrew's (the most populous parish in the settlement), as among delegate to the Convention last winter. While highly esteemed by the English party he is not obnoxious to the French. I have appointed him Provincial Secretary.

"Mr. Marc Amable Girard is a French Canadian, from Varennes below Montreal, who has recently removed here. He is a notary by profession, has been Mayor of Varennes, and is a gentleman of some property, and of good standing, and seems to be the nominee of the French party. I have appointed him Provincial Treasurer." [32]

The Governor set his new assistants for they were scarcely advisers-to work immediately. Girard's first task was to prepare a digest of the old laws of Assiniboia the simple code which had sufficed Red River in its stagnant days but which could form no more than a starting point for any legal order adequate to an expanding province. [33]

For several months Governor Archibald governed his realm by proclamation, the first, dated September 17, calling on the population to keep the peace. [34] A proclamation of a week later forbade the sale of liquor to the Indians, [35] and one of October 6 opened certain of the courts. [36] The main task, however, was to convoke a Legislature, for the Lieutenant-Governor's power to rule by decree was narrowly restricted, and Archibald's other three proclamations of 1870 were directed to that end. He prepared, and published on November 28, an electoral code, [37] followed two weeks later by the proclamation of electoral districts. [38]

The dispatch to Ottawa announcing the electoral districts gives the impression that Archibald had done all the work unaided, [39] but the biographer of Monseigneur Tache relates a different tale:

"The Lieutenant-Governor, who was not familiar with the local situation, found himself handicapped in making this division. He appealed to Mgr. Tache who had such a perfect knowledge of the country and such great ability. The bishop acceded to his request with alacrity. After several days, he presented the Lieutenant-Governor with a plan of division ...

"The Lieutenant-Governor was delighted to find a piece of work which seemed to satisfy all interests and to further the tranquility and harmony of the country. He referred it to his minister Mr. Boyd, and to the most influential of the English; all showed great satisfaction with it. The plan was adopted without change." [40]

In fairness to the Lieutenant-Governor he should probably be assigned more of the credit for the division, although he doubtless made good use as on so many occasions of the Bishop's knowledge of the Province. But, whoever the author, the plan proved to be a wise one. The electoral districts rested solidly on a parish basis, [41] so that each possessed the same relative homogeneity of population as the parishes had. Above all, it sharply segregated the French, and limited electoral contests to the English-speaking parishes where the bitterness between the old settlers and the loyalists was not sufficient to provoke serious outbursts-with one exception which will be seen.

The third and final proclamation, on the last day of 1870 the day following the elections-summoned the legislature.

Governor Archibald did not hesitate to take a hand in the first election campaign. Apparently he concurred in the opinion of Sir John A. Macdonald that "much depends on the successful start of our legislative machine, and you would be quite justified in taking a personal interest in the result of the election, so as to secure the return of a body of respectable men representing the various races and interests." [42] Archibald's reports to Macdonald revealed his partisanship not only frankly but quite proudly. "I am happy to say that everything goes on here satisfactorily," he wrote on December 4. "We shall be able to receive a good working majority in our local house, and I think will send up three out of four of the members of the Commons if not the whole four." [43]

"We" referred to the "Government party," distinguished by its desire to forget past troubles and to heal the factional rifts, as opposed to the "Loyal party," composed of those who demanded punishment for the leaders of the Insurrection. [44] Among the Governor's supporters were two main groups. On the one hand was a substantial section of the English-speaking population, composed chiefly of "old settlers," under the leadership of such men as Colin Inkster, who was active in Manitoba's administration for sixty years, Alexander Begg, merchant and chronicler of early Manitoba, Robert Cunningham, newspaper proprietor, James Ross, of one of Winnipeg's "first families," and Captain Macdonald, a Red River half-breed who had returned to the Province with Wolseley's force. [45] Cunningham's newspaper, The Manitoban (owned and edited jointly by Cunningham and William Coldwell), carried the Lieutenant-Governor's colours and fought his political battles often with ammunition provided by the Governor himself. [46]

The other wing, in alliance with the Government party rather than included in it, was the solid Métis bloc. Their support was attested by the electoral appeal in French, by John Bruce, former president of Riel's "National Committee:""…we must rally around the Lieutenant-Governor and uphold his wise and liberal policy, because he is the friend of all good citizens. [47] Among the leaders of this group were to be found the newcomers from Quebec: Clarke, Dubuc, Girard, and Royal. The latter established a newspaper, Le Métis, to express the viewpoint of the French-speaking population.

Through this organization Governor Archibald marshalled the moderate elements in the community and propagated his policy of conciliation, by resolutions of approval introduced at the campaign meetings. The Central Committee provided even a stereotype resolution: "That we heartily approve the liberal, generous policy announced and indicated by the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, and pledge ourselves to do all in our power to carry out the same". [48] At no time did they pretend independence of the Governor, but, on the contrary, welcomed the label which their opponents gave them "administration candidates." "Amongst us as matters stand," declared The Manitoban, "an Administration candidate may be looked upon as a man who is prepared to stand by an administration, which has been formed amid circumstances altogether abnormal and peculiar, and which has not only been formed, but formed with a success which could scarcely have been looked for." [49]

While the elections thus gave Archibald an opportunity to unite his supporters, they also served to perpetuate the solidarity of the opposition and to feed the antipathies surviving from the Insurrection. The Loyal party, too, held its meetings and passed resolutions, criticizing Archibald for his "almost insulting" reply to the request for Scott's body, and for his failure to do anything "… towards bringing rebels and murderers to justice." [50]

This opposition continued to centre around the stormy figure of Dr. Schultz, one of the most striking leaders in Manitoba's history. At worst he was called a scoundrel, at best a politician of a rather unscrupulous order - in this being, perhaps, the child of his age. At the time of the passage of the Manitoba Act, it was asserted, Schultz's support as leader of the Canadian settlers at Red River was secured at the last minute only by the payment to him of $11,000 on account of his claims for compensation for alleged losses in the Insurrection. [51] During the heat of the 1870 election campaign The Manitoban made an even more remarkable charge against him-which may have had a large element of truth in it:

"It has been stated that the Party which has been formed to carry out the Government policy, have approached Dr. Schultz abjectly, begging him to join them. This statement is of a piece with almost every statement made by Dr. Schultz's miserable organ, relative. It goes on the principle of mendacity, and out of this capital is endeavouring to maintain an ephemeral existence. It was Dr. Schultz who approached, and offered to do what he has done over and over again to sell his friends to further his own interests. The fact is, and can be sworn to, that Dr. Schultz made the following offer to the Committee: 'If you run me for any district - I don't care which and promise not to oppose me, I will go in with you.' This offer was scouted by the Committee. The Doctor, further, modestly demanded that the Committee should eject Mr. Begg from their number, and keep out Mr. Bannatyne." [52]

The Doctor's "miserable organ" was the News-Letter, which throughout its brief existence fought a losing battle against The Manitoban.

Among the French-speaking population unity prevailed and there was no issue for a campaign in their parishes. Their primary aim-although it had not become the obsession it was to be a few years later was to maintain the unity of their racial bloc, in the face of an English-speaking population which was numerically superior but hopelessly divided. Fortunately for the tranquility of the Province, Louis Riel refused to stand in the constituency of St. Vital, as he was requested to do. [53]

Even so, election feeling mounted and the campaign was not without its violence. At a meeting at Poplar Point on November 30, Dr. Lynch, a Loyal party spokesman, attacked Archibald's administration as incapable and corrupt, in reply to which Mr. James Tanner defended the Governor and led in the adoption of a vote of confidence. On his way home from the meeting Tanner was waylaid by "some ruffians," who stampeded his horse and caused his death. [54]

The Schultz party throughout the campaign waved the "loyalty" flag for all it was worth. A speech by Dr. Lynch exemplifies the line of attack; he declared, in part:

"Instead of meriting support and approval, His Excellency deserved condemnation. We are yet without responsible Government through his procrastinating weak policy. Why was not the census taken at once on his arrival? Why have not the Elections been held before now? I cannot see unless it be for some such object as securing the elections in his favor. Talk of 'representative responsible Government' ... where is it? The Governor has two irresponsible advisers, and even they are only figureheads-the real advisers being the Hudson's Bay Company, who were as deeply implicated in the rebellion as the worst of the Riel party. Then look at the appointments that have been made - especially that of John Bruce, the first President of the Provisional Government. Could anything be worse than that? Could anything show more clearly the Governor's lack of sympathy with the loyal party?" [55]

There were, it will be noted, just enough facts in these speeches to make the allegations plausible. But as long as resistance to Riel's movement was proclaimed as the criterion of loyalty, the group had no chance of success as a political party.

Enumeration, begun on October 27, was completed in November, and Archibald resolved, as he wrote Macdonald, to ... Hurry on the local Elections, and to get my own members elected while everything is serene. I shall be sustained I have not a doubt by a fair majority in the local legislature…" [56]

In the elections, held on December 30, Archibald's expectations were fulfilled, and the Government party won an overwhelming victory. Only five candidates from the Loyal party were returned and one of these was subsequently unseated in favor of a Government supporter. [57] Not one of the members elected was an Ontario man. [58]

Dr. Schultz, self-styled "the people's candidate," went down to defeat with most of his running-mates. The Manitoban, as could be expected, pointed a strong moral:

"… As to the Lieutenant-Governor and his policy, and as to the position of the 'People's Candidate' thereunto, the people began to bethink themselves. And after thinking over the matter, they discovered, that the policy of the Governor was the right policy-that he had come to the country armed with a policy, and with his policy in his hand which is now apparent to every thinking man, was the right one-he was not to be bullied by any body into any other, and that the man who had set himself to impede, and even defy the Governor in his arduous labours, was not the man for them." [59]

It would have been closer to the truth to have recognized that the election had simply carried the Insurrection to the polls, and that Schultz, with only the same support he had received the previous winter, had suffered a repetition of his earlier defeat, in about the same degree.

Governor Archibald could now complete the formation of his ministry. On January 10, 1871, he appointed Henry Joseph Hynes Clarke as Attorney General, Thomas Howard as Minister of Public Works and Agriculture, and James McKay as Executive Councillor without portfolio. [60] Ten days later Howard and Alfred Boyd exchanged offices, the former becoming Provincial Secretary. [61] "My object," Archibald reported to Macdonald, "has been to pick cut the best four men I could find in the Assembly, and add one who will be in the Legislative Council when formed." [62]

Clarke, who became Government leader in the Assembly by virtue of his forensic ability, [63] has been regarded by some writers as the first premier. [64] The Governor's correspondence establishes the fallacy of this view:

"Before appointing them I discussed with them individually the Policy which I had pursued and intended to pursue, so as to see that they were prepared to give it a hearty support. This they promised to do ... I called them together on the 14th and handed them a memo of the work that was to be done before calling the Assembly together ... In fact I gave the Council a memo of 32 Bills which would be absolutely necessary to form the sketch of a Provincial constitution, and have set them to work to get their hands in." [65]

Macdonald, in Ottawa, was thoroughly satisfied with the conduct of his "proconsul" in Fort Garry. "You must allow me to congratulate you on the success that has attended your administration so far, and on the result of the elections. The future progress of the administration of affairs will now be comparatively easy, as your Government will have a Parliamentary majority to lean on." [66]

Thus the functions of premier were, in fact, performed by Archibald himself. He was able, in this way, not only to realize in full the executive power which was inherent in his office, but also to direct the legislative programme needed to complete the constitution of the Province. His position, of course, rested on the lack of native leadership and the political inexperience of the community, which produced a loose-knit and ill-led legislature. As long as this condition persisted - which would be until the emergence of disciplined political parties a Governor could, if he wished, maintain a friendly cabinet by manipulation of the divers groups in the legislature. [67]

By March, 1871, Archibald's ministry had made its preparations for the first session of the Provincial Legislature, and there remained only the appointment of the upper chamber to complete the legislative machinery. The Legislative Council was summoned by letters patent of March 10, [68] and its composition was an interesting reflection of the Lieutenant-Governor's policy. James McKay, President of Council (and already a member of the ministry), was a Scots half-breed trader, Catholic in religion. Francois X. Dauphinais, Catholic Métis, had been a member of the Council of Assiniboia, and subsequently vice-president of Riel's Provisional Government. Salomon Hamelin, the other Métis councillor, represented the Métis element opposed to Riel but equally opposed to the Loyal party. J. H. O'Donnell, an Irish Catholic, represented the Irish element which O'Donoghue had led during the Insurrection. The others, Cohn Inkster, Francis Ogletree, and Donald Gunn, were drawn from the Protestant and English-speaking "old settlers." [69] There were no representatives of the Loyal party; all were supporters of the Lieutenant-Governor.

On March 15, 1871, the first Legislature of the Province was opened with all the pomp the Governor could muster. The session was a busy one, producing a total of forty-three bills, most of which were necessary for the rounding-out of the administrative and judicial machinery of the Province. Archibald kept a watchful eye on all the proceedings, to the extent of establishing his private secretary on the floor of the Assembly, [70] and expressed general satisfaction with the legislation. "The Laws you have passed," he declared in the Speech of prorogation, "may not be framed on the model of those of older Countries, but they are at all events suited to the circumstances of your own Country, and they will remove much of the doubt and uncertainty which, until this hour, have hung over the rights and obligations of this Province." [71]

He expressed the same opinion in a private letter to Sir George Cartier, but added that "... to attain this end, required a pretty firm hand with friends and foes. [72] And where he had been unable to control the decisions of the Legislature, he invoked his power of reservation, holding up four bills, [73] none of which received the assent of the Governor-General. [74]

Sir John A. Macdonald, while critical of one or two minor details, [75] was generally pleased with the results of the first session. "I have gone over all your Acts of last session," he wrote, "and must congratulate you on your legislation." [76] Archibald accepted full credit. "If you had seen some of the drafts proposed for my acceptance," he told the Prime Minister, "you would have felt somewhat as I did when I threw them aside, and undertook, amid the distractions of the Session, the labor of drafting them myself." [77]

As the machinery of government was thus elaborated during Manitoba's first year, the Government had to fill the offices created by the new laws. These are recorded in Archibald's "Registry of Commissions, liber A, [78] - in effect, a formal history of the Province from September 17, 1870, to June 12, 1872. The list is almost exhaustive: In addition to the Executive and Legislative Councillors already mentioned, there were all the lesser functionaries so essential to competent administration the Chief and Deputy Constables and Country Constables. Constables of the Courts of Petty Sessions, provincial Sheriff and Coroner. Justices of the Peace, Justices and Presidents of Petty Sessions, Commissioners for the taking of oaths, Surveyors of Highways, County Assessors, County Registrars of Deeds, County Coroners, members of the Board of Health, Vaccination Officers, and a host of clerks - Clerks of the Courts of Petty Sessions, Clerks of License, Clerks of the Peace, Clerks of the Executive Council, the Legislative Council, and the Legislative Assembly. Not the least of the Lieutenant-Governor's tasks was that of finding men for the jobs. On the other hand, the possession of this patronage immeasurably enhanced Governor Archibald's power and undoubtedly contributed significantly to his decisive control over both the executive and the legislature during the period of organization.

The organizational achievements of 1871 can be comprehended from Archibald's review of his administration up to the end of that year a memorandum which was published anonymously as a leading editorial in The Manitoban. [79]

At the beginning of the administration, it was pointed out, there had been no civil security in Manitoba, with only an uneasy truce between hostile factions, and bands of restless Indians roaming the Province. There were no police, no gaol, no code of law, no power to convene grand or petty juries and consequently no means of securing indictments or convictions. There was no postal system and no customs machinery, and the authority of Dominion officials to collect duties was challenged by local traders. Surveys were virtually non-existent, and the outlying regions were inaccessible except by dog-team or Red River cart. But, the anonymous Archibald exulted, see the changes our leaders have wrought:

"Out of the chaos in which the arrival of the Lieutenant-Governor found us order and peace have been evoked; the excitements of times of troubles have passed away. A police has been organized, an enumeration of the inhabitants made, the country has been parceled off into electoral divisions, elections have been held, an Assembly returned and convened, a responsible Ministry constituted, a code of laws enacted, courts of justice organized and put into operation: The Indian title to half a continent released, the public domain of the Province surveyed, laid off in blocks and made ready for immigration; lines of communication with Thunder Bay by the lakes, and with Duluth and St. Paul by the United States, improved; steamships for communicating with the interior in the course of construction, and railway explorations across the continent almost complete; mail routes and post offices established all over the Province, customs houses instituted and duties collected, prisons and penitentiaries built; and, last of all, a telegraph line established, making us part and parcel of the living world. We may well ask whether the crowding of all these events into the compass of a single year is not a theme upon which we may congratulate ourselves and the Dominion to which we belong. We challenge the world to produce an instance where such an amount of work in any country has crowded the annals of a single year ...

"Where all have worked well it would be invidious to distinguish; but this we may say, that the Government of the Dominion and the officials they have sent here, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province and the gentlemen with whom he has been surrounded, as his constitutional advisers, have acted with but one aim that of faithfully discharging the responsible functions which the possession of this noble heritage imposes upon those who have in their hands the administration of public affairs." [80]

Even after due allowance has been made for the patent "window-dressing" in this account, the record is impressive. That it was so essentially to Archibald's credit, for his mind and energy provided the guiding force in the formulation of policy, the creation of machinery, the enactment of laws, and even the detailed day-to-day administration.

In this fashion were the institutions of the New Province established and the processes of government initiated. The most important of Governor Archibald's instructions yet remained to be fulfilled: the introduction of those "... Constitutional principles and precedents which obtain in the older Provinces... " [81] But those principles and precedents were in fact the elements of responsible self-government, and no governor, however competent, could introduce that system overnight. It was no simple matter of creating institutions; what was needed was an intricate pattern of subtle but habitual relationships, which only time could bring. To the extent, however, that institutions could mould those relationships, Manitoba was well-endowed.


1 E. H. Oliver (ed.), The Canadian North-West, Its Early Development and Legislative Records (Ottawa 1914-15) II, 972. Adams George Archibald, a little-known Father of Confederation, was born May 18th, 1814, in Truro, Nova Scotia. Son of a judge, Samuel Archibald, he was trained in the law-called to the bar of P.E.I. in 1838, to the bar of N.S. in 1838. Elected to N.S. assembly from Colchester County in 1851, Solicitor General in 1856. Attorney General from 1860 to 1863. Active in Confederation movement from the start. In 1857 represented N.S. at discussions in London, regarding union of B.N.A. provinces. Attended the Charlottetown, Quebec, and London conferences, and supported Confederation consistently. At Quebec he introduced an unsuccessful motion which would have given all residuary powers to the provinces. Was named Secretary of State for the Provinces in the first Dominion government, but was defeated in the November, 1867, election. Spent the next three years mending political fences in Nova Scotia.

2 Sir Joseph Pope, Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald (Toronto, 1930) p. 420.

3 Beckles Willson, The Life of Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal (London, 1915) pp. 250-51.

4 John Boyd, Sir George Etienne Cartier, Bart., His Life and Times (Toronto, 1917) pp. 304-05.

5 Ibid. p. 305.

6 W. L. Morton, "The Red River Parish: Its Place in the Development of Manitoba," in Manitoba Essays, edited by R. C. Lodge (Toronto, 1937) pp. 89-90.

7 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p. 29; Archibald to the Secretary of State for the Provinces, September 29, 1870.

8 A separate study of the Insurrection's political after-effects in Manitoba is in preparation.

9 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p. 11; Archibald to the Secretary of State for the Provinces, September 10, 1870.

10 G. F. G. Stanley, The Birth of Western Canada (London, 1936) p. 105.

11 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p. 15; Archibald to the Secretary of State for the Provinces, September 17, 1870.

12 Stanley, Birth of Western Canada, p. 101.

13 Evidence of this attack is to be found in the settlement's only newspaper of the sixties, The Nor'Wester, begun in 1859 by two Ontario immigrants, William Buckingham and William Coldwell, which became especially bitter after its ownership and direction were assumed in 1865 by Dr. Schultz.

14 See Morton, "Red River Parish."

15 The facts do not appear to bear out William Leggo's statement that "the population comprised many highly educated men, and very many well qualified to undertake the duties appertaining to a constitutional Government." - The History of the Administration of the Right Honourable Frederick Temple, Earl of Dufferin (Montreal, 1878; p. 516.

16 J.L. Holmes, Factors Affecting Politics in Manitoba: A Study of the Provincial Elections 1870-99 (Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of Manitoba, 1936) pp. 3-4.

17 Dom Benoit, Vie de mgr Tache (Montreal, 1904) II 159; letter to Mgr. Grandin Coadjutor, Dec. 9, 1870. ("Messiers Girard, Dubuc, Royal, Clarke nous sont venus du Canada, et, avec quelques bons elements que nous possedions deja, nous pouvons nous flatter d'une representation honorable et probablement superieure dans notre legislature locale, en sorte que pour le moment nous ne sommes pas dans une position inferieure, et pendant les ans de la premiere session [sic] du Parliament nous pouvons obtenir des lois avantageuses.")

18 Canada, Journals of the House of Commons, vol. VIII, 1874, Appendix no. 6, "Report of the Select Committee on the Causes of the Difficulties in the North-West Territory in 1869-70," (hereafter 1874 Report) p.134; Archibald's testimony.

19 Public Archives of Canada, Macdonald Papers (hereafter P.A.C.) vol.517, p.425, Nov 1, 1870.

20 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No.20, p.17.

21 Wilson, Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal, p.258.

22 Oliver, Canadian North-West, I, 620.

23 Ibid. I, 621-622.

24 A. Begg, History of the North-West (Toronto, 1894-95), II, 28.

25 News-Letter, No. 1 Sept. 13, 1870; "Lieut.-Governor Archibald's Levee."

26 Public Archives of Manitoba (hereafter P.A.M.) Sessional Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia.

27 R.P. Morice, O.M.I, Historie de l'eglise Catholique dans l'Ouest canadien (Montreal, 1922) II, 304. ("Mes profonds respects a M. Archibald; nous desirons vivement son arrive."

28 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p.10; Sept. 10, 1870.

29 Quoted by Margaret McWilliams in Manitoba Milestones, (London, 1928) p.107. It is probable that the flight of the Metis leaders was no less welcomed by the majority of the people, despite the fact that it deprived them of their only proven leaders. During the preceding ten months the community had been surfeited with excitement, and Archibald's desire for tranquility was widely shared. The antipathies of the Insurrection were by no means dead, but it is not proposed to pursue here the story of how they were restrained and eventually extinguished. For the purpose of this study of the establishment of government machinery it will suffice, for the most part, to recognize that they were held under restraint.

30 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p. 4; Dispatch 371, Aug. 4, 1870.

31 P.A.M., Lieutenant-Governors' Papers, Registry of Commissions, liber A, pp.1-5.

32 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p.16; Sept 17, 1870.

33 Ibid. pp. 118-134.

34 P.A.M., Lieutenant-Governor's papers, Registry of Commissions, liber A, pp.28-31. (According to Girard, this Proclamation had been prepared beforehand by the Dominion Authorities in Ottawa "… and had come up ready for publication;" 1874 Report, p. 179.)

35 Ibid. pp.32-34, Sept. 24, 1870.

36 Ibid. pp.35-38.

37 Ibid. pp.39-42.

38 Ibid. pp.43-53; Dec. 13, 1870. A map of the 24 districts is to be found in Holmes, Politics in Manitoba, facing p.2.

39 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, pp.82-85; Dec. 9, 1870.

40 Benoit, Tache, II, 129-29. "Le Lieutenant-Gouverneur, qui ne connaissait pas-les etablissements du pays se trouviat embarrassee pour faite cette division. Il s'adressa a Mgr Tache qui avait une si parfaite connaissance du pays et une si haute intelligence. Le prelate accueillit se demande avec empressement. Au bout de quelques jours, il presenta au Lieutenant-Gouverneur fut enchante d'un travail qui tendait a satisfaire tous les interest et a mettre l'apaisement et la concorde dans le pays. Il en fit part a-son minister M. Boyd et aux Anglais les plus influents; tous s'en montrerent tres satisfaits. Le projet fut adopte sans qui rien n'y fut change."

41 Morton, "Red River Parish."

42 P.A.C., Macdonald Papers, vol, 517, p.425; Nov. 1, 1870.

43 Ibid. vol.187, p.163.

44 Whether Archibald was attempting at the same time to create in Manitoba a stronghold for Macdonald's new Liberal-Conservative party is debatable. Donald A. Smith and Robert Cunningham, "Government party" supporters returned in the 1872 federal elections, subsequently turned against Sir John's government in 1873, while Dr. Schultz, an opponent of the Government party in Manitoba, proved in time to be one of Macdonald's most loyal supporters.

45 It is nowhere explicit in the contemporary newspapers, just who comprised the "Central Committee" of the Government party, but these are the spokesmen of the party most frequently mentioned in The Manitoban.

46 In his testimony before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, Archibald referred to The Manitoban as "the organ of the Government of Manitoba." - 1874 Report, p.157.

47 Manitoban, Dec. 10, 1870; "Aux Electeurs de Manitoba." "... Nous devons nous rallier autour du Lieutenant-Gouverneur et appuyer sa politique sage et liberale parce qu'il est l'ami de tous les bons citoyens."

48 Ibid. Nov. 19, 1870; "Public Meeting at St. Pauls." See also the issues of October 29 and November 5.

49 Ibid. Jan 7, 1871; "They Knew All About It."

50 Ibid, Nov. 12, 1870; "The Elections: Meeting in Kildonan." See also report in the following issue of a further Kildonan meeting.

51 Ibid. Feb. 25, 1871; "That 'Eleven Thousand Dollars'."

52 Ibid. Nov. 12, 1870 "Shameful Proposition."

53 P.A.M., Riel Collection, Folio 3-J; Paul Proux, Baptiste Nault et al to Riel, Nov. 7, 1870. See also The Manitoban, Dec. 17, 1870; "Riel and the Elections."

54 The Manitoban, Dec. 3, 1870; "Mob Law - The Loyalists at Work Again," and "Election Meeting at Poplar Point" in the issue of Dec. 10, 1870.

55 Ibid.

56 P.A.C. Macdonald Papers, vol. 187, pp. 177-178; Dec. 11, 1870.

57 Holmes, Politics in Manitoba, pp.7-9. The balance of racial and religious interests among the successful candidates was remarkably precise; twelve whites and twelve half-breeds, half of each being Catholic and half Protestant, - Benoit, Tache, II, 129.

58 The Manitoban, Apr. 15, 1871; "Ontario vs. Manitoba."

59 Ibid. Jan. 4, 1871; "The Cause."

60 P.A.M., Lieutenant-Governors' Papers, Registry of Commissions, liber A, pp. 21-23.

61 Ibid. pp. 26-27.

62 P.A.C., Macdonald Papers, vol. 187, pp.183-184; Jan. 16, 1871.

63 L.-A. Prud'homme, "Le premier parlement de Manitoba 1870-1874" Transactions, Royal Society of Canada, 1923, Sec I, p.170.

64 Begg, The North-West, II, 32, and Holmes, "Politics in Manitoba," p.8.

65 P.A.C., Macdonald papers, vol. 187, pp. 187-189; Archibald to Macdonald, Jan. 16, 1871.

66 Ibid. vol. 518, p.161; Macdonald to Archibald, Jan 25, 1871.

67 Should a Governor attempt this injudiciously he might, of course, expect the "enabling" factor to disappear rapidly, and party divisions to take form - on the issue of the Governor's powers. Such a development is not unknown in Canadian history.

68 Paragraph 3 of Archibald's informal instructions directed that the appointment of legislative councilors be delayed until the executive was complete. - Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p.4; dispatch 371, Under-Secretary of State for the Provinces to Archibald, Aug. 4, 1870.

69 L.-A. Prud'homme, "Le conseil legislative de Manitoba," Transactions, Royal Society of Canada, 1931, Sec. I, p. 62.

70 Manitoba, Journals of the Legislative Assembly, 1871, p. 22.

71 Ibid. p.76; May 3, 1871.

72 P.A.C. Macdonald Papers, vol. 187, p.222; May 26, 1871.

73 Manitoba, Journals of the Legislative Assembly, 1871, p.75.

74 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1877, No. 89, pp.79-80; orders in council of Nov. 29, 1871.

75 P.A.C., Macdonald Papers, vol. 519, pp. 19-21; Macdonald to Archibald, July 12, 1871.

76 Ibid. vol. 519, pp. 327; Macdonald to Archibald, Oct. 18, 1871.

77 Ibid. vol. 187, pp. 304-305; Nov. 3, 1871.

78 P.A.M., Lieutenant-Governor's Papers.

79 1874 Report, p. 157; Archibald's testimony. The memorandum, "Manitoba, the History of a Year," appeared in The Manitoban of Jan. 1, 1872, and is published in pp.158-62 of the 1874 Report. Modesty was not, apparently, one of the Governor's attributes, and Joseph Royal's newspaper, Le Metis, ignorant of the Memorandum's source, chided Mr. Cunningham of The Manitoban for being too fulsome in his flattery of Mr. Archibald; the latter, it was remarked, had been given credit for everything but the sunshine and the flow of the rivers - Jan. 11, 1872; "L'histoire de 1871."

80 The Manistoban, Jan. 1, 1872; "Manitoba, The History of a Year."

81 Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p.4; dispatch 371, August 4, 1870, Under-Secretary of State for the Provinces to Archibald, para. 1.

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