Manitoba History: Site Review: St. Peter’s and the Interpretation of the Agriculture of Manitoba’s Aboriginal People

by Sarah Carter
St. John’s College, University of Manitoba

Manitoba History, Number 18, Autumn 1989

This article was published originally in Manitoba History 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 As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Indian Settlement at Red River, from G. J. Mountain’s Journal of the Bishop of Montreal During a Visit to the Church Missionary Society’s North-West America Mission, 1846. An idealized view of the Indian settlement intended to leave the impression of an island of civility in the midst of the wilderness.
Source: Archives of Manitoba

St. Peter’s is off the route of the popular scenic drive along the Red River north of Winnipeg, as it is on the lonely east bank at Cook’s Creek, five kilometers north of East Selkirk. Yet it is perhaps the most unique of all the sites along the Red as the original settlers of this most northerly parish were Cree and Saulteaux agriculturalists. St. Peter’s could become the focal point of a tour of the agriculture of the aboriginal people of Manitoba, a theme which is already presented to some extent along the Red River corridor. A phase which is missing is that of reserve agriculture and St. Peter’s could interpret to the public many aspects of life in the post-treaty era. By the turn of the century St. Peter’s was regarded as one of the most splendid examples of the work of the Department of Indian Affairs. But in 1907 the reserve was “surrendered” and there were soon almost no Native families left at the site their people settled almost eighty years earlier. This story should be told and not ignored at St. Peter’s. Visitors could learn of a time when government and many non-Natives shared the attitude that reserves should not be in neighborhoods of fine agricultural land, when there was potential for white settlement and profit.

For years this community was simply known as the “Indian Settlement.” After the stone church was built in 1853 it was called “St. Peter’s” to which “Dynevor” was added after 1876. The names of many of the original settlers are still to be seen on the headstones of the cemetery adjoining the church. Among these are the Princes, the children of Chief Peguis and his descendants. The largest headstone is over the grave of Peguis who died in 1864. This monument, erected by the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land, gratefully recognizes Peguis for his “good offices” to the early settlers. It is believed that this Saulteaux chief was originally from the region of Sault St. Marie and that he led his band westward to the area of Netley Creek, just above Lake Winnipeg, in the early 1790s. [1] He developed friendly relations with the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Selkirk settlers, offering food, refuge and military services in times of need. Peguis was baptized in 1838 and attended Anglican services in the stone church which was recently restored with funds from the Agreements for Recreation and Conservation (ARC) program. Provincial historic plaques located just out-side the church honour Peguis and Reverend William Cock-ran, the two men most instrumental in establishing the settlement at St. Peter’s which was started in 1833. By 1850 this community had grown to 500 and 230 acres were under cultivation, farmed in long, narrow river lots as in the other parishes of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. On the plaques Cockran is credited with encouraging Peguis and his people to pursue agriculture and certainly his dedication had much to do with the development of St. Peter’s, but it should also be mentioned that the Saulteaux were horticulturalists before missionary contact.

The first stop on a tour of Native agriculture would be at the archaeological digs and museum at Lockport, on the east side of the Red just north of St. Andrew’s lock and dam. This is one of the best sites in the province for the interpretation of the pre-European contact history of the aboriginal inhabitants. The well-stratified deposits at the village site found here have revealed the remains of four distinct cultures spanning 3000 years, and clear evidence has been found that Native people were the first farmers in Manitoba. [2] For a time during the “Late Woodland Period” (800 A.D.-1700 A.D.) the inhabitants of the village pursued a lifestyle similar to that of the corn farmers of the Dakotas and Minnesota. Hoes made from the shoulder blades of large mammals, and grinding stones for milling plant seeds were found at this site and are on exhibit at the museum. Archaeological work has also unearthed underground bell-shaped storage pits for the harvest, similar to those of the southern Plains Village people, and pottery that also suggested this influence. The Lockport villagers pursued a complementary economy based on farming, hunting and fishing, as did most of the much later settlers of the nineteenth century. This early phase of agriculture was short-lived however. Around 1500 the climate changed dramatically. It grew cold and the growing season was shortened so that corn could no longer be grown.

A subsequent phase of Native agriculture in Manitoba was centered at Netley Creek, which could be the second stop of the tour. This site has also received ARC funding for archaeological work and historic research to develop interpretive displays and nature walks through the marsh. This was an area rich in wildfowl, game and sugar maples, and it was also a popular spot for the cultivation of corn. Native agriculture at this site has been well-documented in the work of D. W. Moodie and Barry Kaye. [3] They have found evidence that a group of Ottawa Indians first began to plant corn at this site in 1805. The Netley Creek village increased in size as the Ottawa were joined by the Red River Saulteaux who also took to cultivating corn and potatoes, some of which were sold to the traders.

Netley Creek was possibly the earliest centre of Native agriculture in the years after European contact but in a short time there were many other such sites distributed over a wide geographic area. There were cultivated areas along the Assiniboine and Roseau rivers, at the southern end of Lake Manitoba, between Lake Manitoba and the Forks, and as far north as the Swan River valley. In the 1850s H. Y. Hind found evidence of Native cultivation both by bands and individuals. At Islington Mission (White Dog or Chien Blanc on the Winnipeg River), fields of potatoes, corn and wheat surrounded the home of one Indian. [4] The Fort Alexander people cultivated corn at this time. Near Portage la Prairie Hind noted that a Cree farmer had grown corn successfully for three years. Well before the time of the numbered treaties in the 1870s the Swan Lake Saulteaux band cultivated corn and potatoes at a spot along the Assiniboine traditionally known as the “Indian Gardens,” and the westerly bands of The Key and Kishikonse raised root crops and had large herds of cattle and horses. [5]

A third phase of Native cultivation that is already interpreted to some extent at St. Peter’s is that of mission agriculture. An ARC plaque which looks out onto the farmland just past the cemetery points out that here was a log school, houses, a windmill for milling wheat, and a wooden church that pre-dated the stone church. Historic Resources Branch pamphlets on Peguis and the church are usually available at the site.

St. Peter’s could also interpret to the public a fourth phase of Native cultivation, or the reserve period. With the signing of Treat One in 1871 this parish was surveyed as a reserve. It was one of the few Indian reserves in the province located in zones of class 2 soil, where there were only moderate restrictions on the range of crops possible. The St. Peter’s experience clearly shows that Native people were not averse to agriculture, and that they readily adopted new techniques and technology. An interest in establishing agriculture was evident on reserves throughout the province even though much of this land proved to be unsuitable for farming, and little assistance was given Manitoba Indians. The federal government promised to distribute implements, livestock and other agricultural aids but those that reached the reserves in the 1870s proved to be of inferior quality and of little use. An 1877 inquiry established that this was due to the corruption of J. A. N. Provencher, commissioner of Indian Affairs and his officials. [6]

Inspector of Indian agencies Ebenezer McColl complained in his 1878 annual report that the supplies issued to the Indians of all kinds were of the most inferior nature, that they would not be accepted at any price by the ordinary consumer. [7] They had been given wild or won out cattle that could not be hitched to the plough or used for dairying, and their seed potatoes and grain were distributed too late for sowing in the spring. Garden hoes had been sent to many reserves rather than the grub hoes which would help people to break up the wooded scrubby land that many were trying to farm. The residents of some reserves, such as those at Beren’s River, refused to accept implements that they knew were not adapted to the cultivation of their land. [8]

Native farmer with oxen, circa 1900.
Source: Archives of Manitoba

Despite these setbacks the Indians of Manitoba were reported to be enterprising, industrious and anxious to farm in the early years of reserve life. This was clearly exemplified in their willingness to hitch themselves to the ploughs or harrows through the ingenious use of ropes or portage straps, and some efforts were made to have dog trains do the work of oxen. [9] At Norway House, Cross Lake, Grand Rapids and Beren’s River in the late 1870s it was reported that ploughs were worked by manpower, and at Crane River in 1881 there were still no oxen but “to prove their anxiety four of them at a time got into harness and ploughed about twenty acres.” [10] Efforts were made in some places to break land with pointed sticks, and crops of wheat and other grain were raised with no other implements than grub hoes. [11]

There were a wide variety of obstacles to farming that Native farmers shared with all other early settlers. Blackbirds destroyed crops and insects plagued livestock. In 1882 Agent A. M. Muckle attempted to give a demonstration of ploughing at Brokenhead reserve but “after a short trial had to give it up, as it was impossible to work the oxen with the flies. The animals were actually covered from head to foot with bull-dogs and mosquitoes and could not be worked.” [12] It was sometimes the case that sickness prevented work being completed in the spring. Because of an outbreak of scarlet fever among the Riding Mountain band in 1879 they were unable to sow their crops. They “previously had the best crops in the agency.” [13] In certain districts a great drawback to farming was that there was no market for produce, and there was little point in growing any more than what was required for home consumption and seed. 1881 was a disastrous year for many reserve farmers. In the Lake Manitoba district there was an unprecedented rise in the water level. This combined with heavy rains and early frosts and nearly totally destroyed the crops. Cattle perished over the winter because there was not enough hay. A partial failure of the fisheries and a scarcity of muskrats and other fur bearing animals meant great destitution. [14]

Inspector McColl was nonetheless enthusiastic about the potential of reserve farming, and in 1878 wrote that the Indians could soon develop into successful agriculturalists, as they were eager and their progress was “extremely gratifying.” [15] Like reserve residents further to the west they made “urgent solicitations for farmers,” to instruct them in ploughing, seeding, and maintaining implements. In this respect McColl and the Manitoba bands were disappointed, as they never received the farm instruction that was allowed the Indians of the North West. It was from the beginning assumed that the Manitoba bands already knew enough about agriculture, or that they could find other forms of employment. The government’s position was that farm instructors were required only for the plains people who were previously dependant on the buffalo and had no other means of support but farming. [16]

In 1875 Manitoba Indian Commissioner Provencher explained that as the reserves within his jurisdiction were generally situated in the midst of settlements, there was “no necessity, as is the case elsewhere, to teach the several tribes the rudiments of the new way of life which they are called upon to embrace.” [17] Provencher believed these bands had “become sufficiently familiar with the elements of industry and agriculture.” “For this reason,” Provencher wrote, “the Government is exonerated from the obligation, which it has to fulfill elsewhere, of establishing model farms, erecting mills, etc., in the middle of an Indian population, and of regulating the conditions of trade.” [18] The commissioner believed that having distributed the promised implements and cattle, the requirements of the Indians were met, and nothing remained for officials to do but to superintend their real estate and prevent the sale of spirituous liquors.

Although Provencher left his Winnipeg job in disgrace in 1878, this policy remained in place, and Manitoba Indians never received the same degree of farm instruction as those further west. The 1879 “home farm” program which first sent farm instructors to the West only provided for one such establishment within the boundaries of present-day Manitoba, for the Waywayseecappo band, and this was closed by 1882. By the mid-1880s there was a farm instructor resident on most reserves in the North West but this was not the case in Manitoba where it was assumed that Native people could find other employment on steamboats, railways, saw mills, or working on the farms of other settlers.

Despite the inferior implements and oxen which they had to work with, the climatic instability, and the lack of farm instruction, reserve farmers in Manitoba made remarkable progress in the late nineteenth century. The people of the Clandeboye agency of Treaty One, made up of Fort Alexander, Brokenhead and St. Peter’s, were particularly dedicated to agriculture. By 1875 at Fort Alexander there were 1000 acres under cultivation. The inspector of agencies found that one member of this band carried out his own scientific tests on seven varieties of seed potatoes which he had purchased in Windsor, Ontario, in order to determine which were most suitable for his land. [19] One segment of the Brokenhead band took great interest in farming. This was the group officials called the “heathen” or Fort Garry band. The chief Nasekepanis worked diligently on his own farm and appointed one of his councillors to oversee the farming of other band members. [20] The Christian faction of the band did not show as much progress.

But it was the St. Peter’s reserve that was hailed as the most advanced in agriculture. Indian affairs officials took full credit for the agricultural achievements of the band, and used it to advertise the wisdom and success of government policy. By the late 1870s there were over 2000 acres under cultivation at St. Peter’s. Neatly kept vegetable gardens and cultivated fields surrounded comfortable, whitewashed log homes. Agent Muckle wrote in 1885 that the people of St. Peter’s would compare favourably with those in most of the old settlements along the Red and Assiniboine in their agricultural pursuits, implements, housing and clothing, and that the St. Peter’s people were “more prosperous and make more money in a year than thousands of people in the older provinces.” [21] The agent was frustrated however that not all residents devoted their entire attention to agriculture. In the fall they went duck hunting and fishing, selling sturgeon, pickerel, jackfish, and catfish, and in the spring they went hunting and berry-picking. Like the residents of many of the other parishes the St. Peter’s people maintained a mixed economy, well-adapted to the resources and climate of the country.

By 1900 the St. Peter’s band was doing very well indeed as industries developed along the Red River and Lake Winnipeg. There was a demand in particular for catfish by fish companies for export, and band members made as much as $15 to $40 per week in cash. [22] Captains on board the tugs collected fish daily and paid the fishermen immediately. The crops of wheat, oats, potatoes and other vegetables were abundant most years on the reserve and the St. Peter’s band kept a large herd of cattle. Band members also sold furs, earning over $1000 in 1901. The number of skins was not large but very high prices were paid for those that had become exceptionally scarce. The merchants of Selkirk profited from the band’s prosperity. One store owner reported that the St. Peter’s men had a preference for the most expensive ready-made suits, and the cheaper brands were left on his hands unsold. [23] There was a keen demand for farm implements among band members. W. D. Harper of St. Peter’s acted as an agent for one of the machine companies and sold mowers, rakes and wagons to other reserve residents. The merchants of Selkirk extended credit to band members over the winter and reported that they settled their accounts promptly in the spring. [24]

The annual summer gathering at St. Peter’s for treaty payment was the “grand holiday season” when everyone left their occupations and took part in football, lacrosse and other games. The grounds were usually crowded with visitors from Winnipeg, Selkirk, and the surrounding district. Marriages were performed at this time as the whole community could attend. Merchants set up tents and booths with food, refreshments and goods for sale. Toward evening a dancing floor was laid down, and according to an 1896 visitor, “the ‘beauty and chivalry’ of St. Peter’s tripped it ‘on the light fantastic’ and other kinds of toes till the stars grew pale in the morning sky.” [25] This same observer wrote that during the six days of holiday making “though so near to Selkirk, there was not one case on drunkenness, disorder or improper con-duct of any kind to be seen.” Like many romantic Victorians, this visitor appreciated the sight of “the finest living type of aristocratic element.” “John Prince, a lineal descendant of Peguis, is a pure-blood Indian, and bears his charter of nobility in face and manner. In meeting him one feels that one meets a gentleman, and all who know him have only good to say of him.” For such occasions the Prince family displayed medals from the 1885 Egyptian campaign. In that year Chief William Prince led a group of Manitoba Indian boatmen who formed part of the expedition up the Nile for the relief of General Gordon at Khartoum. Here Prince met his friend from Red River days Colonel William Butler and was foreman of his boat. [26]

For many years treaty days at St. Peter’s remained the focal celebration of the summer season. Department of Indian Affairs officials seemed to enjoy the event as much as others. Describing the gathering in 1901 Inspector McColl wrote that “owing to our proximity to the town of Selkirk, to which many persons resort in summer from the city and all parts of the province, and to the fact that excursions are run by the boats every afternoon and evening, we have a gathering often of from two to three thousand people. The traders’ tents, arranged by streets and avenues, the dancing halls, the church bazaars and dining-halls, all make an interesting scene. The din is the din of an old country fair.” [27]

McColl and other Indian Affairs officials continually boasted about St. Peter’s as the “banner” reserve of Manitoba. The residents had comfortable homes, cattle, sheep, pigs and up-to-date farm machinery. Most attended church regularly and could read and write. They were, according to one journalist, “as intelligent in every way as the average member of the Anglo-Saxon race.” [28] McColl wrote in 1901 that a “drive along the main highway through the reserve, as it follows the picturesque windings of the river, with its tidy, whitewashed and well shingled dwelling houses on the one hand and the rapidly broadening Red River on the other, with its numerous fishing skiffs, from which the Indians this year were plying a profitable trade, was about as pleasant and exhilarating as any I have ever taken. A stranger passing thus through St. Peter’s, noting the buildings, might be pardoned for looking upon it as an advanced pioneer settlement. Many of the houses are as pretentious as those among the white settlements.” [29]

Only a few years later all of this had changed, and the St. Peter’s people had lost their reserve. Very little information is provided about this today at the site. Visitors must be curious about why the band left this beautiful spot by the river. An ARC plaque states that there were internal tensions within the community, that the people did not fully devote themselves to agriculture and that in “1908 the Department of Indian Affairs closed St. Peter’s reserve. Many of the Indian families sold what land they had and moved north to the newly-opened Peguis reserve.” In the provincial Historic Resources Branch pamphlet “St. Peter’s Church Dynevor” it is noted that the Native population of the reserve increasingly dispersed after the 1870s as they were bought out by other settlers, and that “much of the missionaries’ painstaking work was undone. Farming became a subsidiary occupation for the remaining natives who readily re-adapted to hunting and fishing. In 1908 St. Peter’s was closed as a reserve.” [30] Both the plaque and the pamphlet greatly over-simplify and “sanitize” the events surrounding the fraudulent surrender of the reserve. While the story is complex an effort should be made to interpret this at St. Peter’s today.

As early as 1883 a leading citizen of Selkirk, James Colcleugh, circulated a petition which called on the federal government to put the St. Peter’s reserve up for sale, as it was a “drawback to our growth and prosperity.” [31] Colcleugh advised Lisgar M.P. A. W. Ross that if he could “devise some means of busting the reserve ... your name will be immortalized!” Such sentiments were widespread in the West among townspeople and homesteaders near Indian reserves. It was felt that Indians held land far out of proportion to their needs, that they did not effectively use this land, and that their presence inhibited the growth and progress of a district. Prime agricultural land especially was thought to be wasted in the hands of Indian bands, even when these people farmed with success, as in the case of St. Peter’s and many other bands across the West. Beginning in the 1880s such arguments were used throughout Manitoba and the North West in letters, petitions and deputations to federal members of Parliament. After 1896 especially these campaigns were successful in securing the surrender of thousands of acres of prairie reserve land. As land prices in the Selkirk district steadily rose after 1896, people active in politics and commerce in the community, especially the Selkirk Board of Trade, began to promote the idea that the reserve should be opened up for sale. [32]

This sort of pressure for Indian reserve land was not unique to St. Peter’s but other circumstances were. There were many non-Indian claimants to land at St. Peter’s who clamoured to have their claims legally recognized. Some had resided in the parish well before its survey as a reserve and had patented lots, and others had purchased from band members after the parish was surveyed as a reserve, and these were the lots that were much in dispute. During the Conservative regime to 1896 there appeared to be little hope that non-Indians would have their claims recognized and efforts were made to “eject” trespassers, although these proved futile. The Liberals were more sympathetic to these claimants, some of whom were prominent party supporters, and it was in searching for some overall settlement to this “vexing question” that the notion arose of the band surrendering the reserve.

In 1906 Hector Howell, Chief Justice of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, was appointed to enquire into the land disputes at St. Peter’s and to report on the advisability of a surrender of the land. Howell, an experienced Liberal organizer and acquaintance of Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior, recommended that 1000 more acres be patented, but he also used the existence of these patented lots as a central reason why in his view the reserve had become “utterly impossible to manage.” [33] Howell made up his mind that it was in the interests of both the neighborhood and the band that they “get off that reserve,” which he felt was “a black spot.” [34] He believed that no one could doubt “If he loves the Indian” that the reserve was too close to “civilization” and he knew these people and their wants as he had “been down at the mouth of the river shooting for 14 years.” Howell stated that band members objected to surrender only because “the Indian loves his reserve just as people are patriotic, not so much for love of country but because of the graves; their graves were there and that is what held them to the place just as it holds us.” [35]

In 1907 a surrender of the reserve was secured. Each band member received a patent for land at St. Peter’s (80 acres per family of five). The balance was to be sold and a new reserve surveyed on Lake Winnipeg. This surrender was declared invalid by a 1911 St. Peter’s Indian Reserve Commission composed of three county court judges, as certain statutory provisions had not been complied with. [36] Reserve residents had been given only one day’s notice of the meeting called to consider surrender, and many did not hear and did not attend. The meeting was held at a time when people were out on Lake Winnipeg fishing and could not attend given only one day’s notice. One week’s notice at least should have been given for such an important meeting. The Commission found that the surrender agreement was neither partially nor fully read to all of those present, and what was read was in English only. The terms were not translated or explained in Cree or Saulteaux. The meeting was held in a small school house, and only one-half of those present could get in while others had to attempt to listen at the windows and door.

Paying the Annuities at St. Peter’s at “Treaty Time,” 1880.
Source: Geological Survey of Canada

The vote was recorded in a controversial manner. Those present were asked to separate into two rows; those in favour to stand on one side, and those against on the other. There was a great deal of confusion for a time with people travelling from one side to another, and it was difficult to keep the two crowds separate. The commissioners found that it was “Just at that moment the Rev. Mr. Semmens called out at the top of his voice in the Cree language, ‘Which of you want $90 go over there’, indicating the affirmative side with his hand.” [37] (Semmens was the Clandeboye Indian agent, a Methodist missionary, and a shareholder in the Selkirk Land and Investment Company.) The deputy superintendent general of Indian Affairs Frank Pedley was present at the surrender meeting and had $5000 in a satchel which it was made clear would be distributed if the surrender carried, and if it was defeated “the satchel with its precious contents would go back to Ottawa.” [38] The commissioners found clear evidence that up to the time of the “parading the satchel” before them, the band was not favourable to the surrender and had not asked for it. When the vote was taken it was found that 107 were standing in favour and 98 against, but no record of the vote was taken as was customary in elections for chief and councillors. There could well have been people there who had no right to vote as no attempt was made to authenticate band membership. Certain additions to the surrender document were made after the vote and were never voted on or ratified by the band, so that the surrender submitted to the vote was not the same as the one signed.

A variety of measures were used in an effort to sway votes in favour of surrender. Band member Fred Cameron described for the commissioners what took place before the vote was taken.

Just a few minutes before the vote was taken Mr. Semmons spoke to me ‘Fred, I want to see you for a minute’ and he took me to one side a little bit and asked me if I was on his side, the surrender side, and I said no, and he asked me what family I had, and I told him myself and wife and six children, that would be eight of a family altogether, and he pulled out his little pass book and started to figure and he said ‘You are getting some money today if you make the surrender, you are getting $4.50 per head and that would $3.40 you will get’, and he kept on figuring and said ‘You are getting 16 acres of land per head and you will get 120 acres’, and he kept on figuring and he said ‘Besides that you will get $90 a year from now if you surrender’. When he finished figuring he said ‘Now, you will be well-off getting all this, now will you surrender?’ and I said no, I would not. [39]

The findings of the Commission were totally ignored. In 1916 the St. Peter’s Reserve Act was passed in Parliament which confirmed the titles of purchasers of property on the former reserve, with an extra payment per acre to band members. Just as government officials had predicted, few band members remained in possession of their individual allotments. As this land was no longer part of a reserve it could be mortgaged, or seized for debt. Alcohol became an effective tool for land buyers who offered to pay fines for drunkeness in exchange for title to the allotments. [40]

The Department of Indian Affairs carried on as if the Commission had not taken place at all and the establishment of the new Peguis reserve on the Fisher River continued. Conditions here were difficult as there were no houses, schools, or churches, no roads or land broken, and no employment but some wood-cutting. [41] The only store was eight miles away, and the nearest town seventy-five miles away; it took ten days at least to make the round trip by oxen over a trail to Gimli. Even in this location, however, concern was soon expressed that the band’s presence would be detrimental to a district which might otherwise be occupied by white settlers. [42]

The history of St. Peter’s encapsulates the experiences of Native Canadian farmers throughout the prairies. Many made successful adaptations to agriculture, some well before the treaties were negotiated, as in the case of St. Peter’s. During the 1870s and 1880s reserve farmers coped with environmental setbacks as did all other farmers but they extended their acreage, increased their herds, and acquired the machinery necessary to maintain these. With increased immigration after 1896, a rise in wheat prices and land values, non-Natives began to cast jealous eyes on reserve land that was in prime agricultural zones. The arguments used throughout the West in support of surrender were that the land was not effectively used, that the presence of Native people was a drawback to the prosperity of a district, and that reserves close to towns was damaging to the morals of all.

The old stone church is still in use at St. Peter’s in the summer months, and for burial services. A Peguis Memorial Day celebration is held on the third Sunday of June each year. A service at the church is followed by a ceremony at the Peguis monument which includes greetings from federal, provincial and local dignitaries. This year a representative of the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land announced that a life-size bust of Sergeant Thomas Prince, a veteran of World War II and Korea who earned the Military Medal for gallantry, the Silver Star for valour, eight other medals and six campaign ribbons, will be unveiled. (This is a welcome announcement, particularly as the Historic Sites Advisory Board of Manitoba recently moved that Prince was not an individual of provincial historic significance. Hopefully, this decision will be reversed in the near future.) At the 1989 Peguis Day much was said about the chief and his assistance to the early settlers, but nothing was mentioned of the later history of his people. Chief Louis Stevenson could not be present, but a band councillor said that this is a place of great sadness for his people, a place where they have shed many tears. An afternoon of sports, and a pow-wow followed, an event that might be a pale reflection of the treaty days of old. This year there was only a small busload present from the peguis reserve. They had to leave at 5 A.M. to arrive at the ceremony on time.


1. Chief Peguis, (Winnipeg: Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Recreation, Historic Resources Branch, 1984), p. 1.

2. The Prehistory of the Lockport Site, (Winnipeg: Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Recreation, Historic Resources Branch, 1985), p. 11.

3. D. W. Moodie and Barry Kaye, “The Northern Limit of Indian Agriculture in North America,” Geographical Review, 59, no. 4, (1969), p. 513.

4. H. Y. Hind, Narrative of the Canadian Red River Exploring Expedition of 1857 and of the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition of 1858, (1860; rpt. New York: Greenwood Press, 1969), p. 121.

5. National Archives of Canada (NA), Records relating to Indian Affairs, (RG10), vol. 3625, file 5489, W.J. Christie’s report on Treaty Four, 1876.

6. E. Brian Titley, “J. A. N. Provencher: A French-Canadian Carpetbagger in Manitoba,” unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, 1986.

7. Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, vol. 12, no. 7, 1878, p. 54.

8. Ibid., vol. 15, no. 6, (1881), p. 87.

9. Ibid., vol. 12, no. 7, (1878), p. 54 and vol. 13, no. 4, (1879), p. 74.

10. Ibid., vol. 15, no. 6, (1881), p. 66.

11. Ibid., vol. 12, no. 7, (1878), p. 54.

12. Ibid., vol. 14, no. 14, (1880-81), p. 36.

13. Ibid., vol. 13, no. 4, (1879), p. 66.

14. Ibid., vol. 15, no. 6, (1881), p. xxxviii.

15. Ibid., vol. 12, no. 7, (1878), p. 54.

16. Sarah Carter, “The Genesis and Anatomy of Government Policy and Indian Reserve Agriculture on Four Agencies in Treaty Four, 1874-1897,” unpublished Ph.D., University of Manitoba, 1987, chpt. 4.

17. Sessional Papers, vol. 9, no. 9, (1875), p. 32.

18. Ibid., p. 33.

19. Ibid., vol. 17, no. 4, (1883), p. 58.

20. Ibid., vol. 13, no. 4, (1879), p. 67.

21. Ibid., vol. 19, no. 4, (1885), p. 46.

22. Ibid., no. 27, (1901), p. 75.


24. Ibid.

25. J. J. Gunn, Echoes of the Red, (Toronto: The Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1930), p. 202.

26. C. P. Stacey, ed., Records of the Nile Voyageurs, 1884-85: The Canadian Continent in the Gordon Relief Expedition, (Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1959).

27. Sessional Papers, no. 27, (1901), p. 77.

28. National Archives, Clifford Sifton Papers, series 2, file “Mc 1896,” 3701, clipping from The Colonist, n.d.

29. Sessional Papers, no. 27, (1901), p. 74.

30. “St. Peter’s Dynevor,” p. 7.

31. Barry Potyondi, Selkirk: The First Hundred Years, (Winnipeg: Josten’s/National School Services, 1981), p. 32.

32. Tyler, Wright and Daniel Ltd., “The Alienation of Indian Reserve Lands During the Administration of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 1896-1911: The St. Peter’s Reserve,” unpublished report prepared for the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, 1979, p. 134.

33. NA, Records of the Department of Indian Affairs, RG 10, vol. 4033, file 301, 808-SP, p. 521.

34. Ibid., pp. 521 and 524.

35. Ibid., p. 524.

36. Majority and minority reports of the St. Peter’s Reserve Commission, from the Winnipeg Telegram, 5 Jan., 1912, typescript available at the Manitoba Legislative Library.

37. Ibid., p. 11.

38. Ibid., p. 12.

39. NA, RG 10, vol. 4033, file 301, 808 SP, p. 355.

40. Tyler, Wright and Daniels, pp. 397-401.

41. Chief Albert Edward Thompson, Chief Peguis and His Descendants, (Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1973), pp. 46-48.

42. Tyler, Wright and Daniels, p. 357.