History of Manitoulin Island

Lake Huron NASA
Lake Huron NASA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the Eagle Watch #231

Historical Document Revealing:

This is Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs William Spragge’s introductory letter to his 1868 Report to Indian Affairs. Spragge was D.S.I.A. from 1862 til 1873 when he died. That was the same year Alexander “Attorney Al” Morris of Perth, negotiated Treaty #3 with the Saulteaux Anishnaabe. Spragge started out at the Surveyor General’s Office in 1829. At the time of writing this report, he was also not very popular with the Anishnaabek on Manitoulin Island.
Spragge married Martha Ann Molson. (You all know the Molsons, right? They’re the people who made a fortune on booze and other people’s sorrow. Seventh generation Molsons are still making piles of money. Hmmm. Remember this the next time you crack into a Molson… We have highlighted some terms and added some subtitles as well as our irrepressible comments in []. Typical of his times, Spragge is long-winded.

Ottawa, 2nd April, 1869.
SIR, – In accordance with your instructions, I have the honor to submit the following Report, relative to Indian Affairs for the period commencing 1st July, 1867, and terminating 30th June, 1868.
The Indian Office on its disconnection from the Crown Land Department upon the latter being removed from Ottawa, in the year 1867, underwent an important change, and new duties and responsibilities devolved upon its officers. Coupled with this was a change which I had been for some years anxious to see accomplished, namely the placing of Indian monies direct and immediately to the credit of the Receiver General, on account of Indian funds, upon their being paid in instead of their being first
deposited to the credit of the Crown Lands Department, and mingled in the Bank with Crown Land Receipts; and at subsequent dates transferred to the Receiver General, for the benefit of the Indians.
Enhancing the Shell Game
The new system thus accelerates the proper disposition of the monies, and also renders it less difficult to brine the balances in the books of the Indian Office, and in those of the Finance Department, into agreement the one with the other.
It is obvious, however, that while an improvement, it entails upon the Accountant the responsibility and the whole of the onus which had been previously shared by the Land Department.
There is another deviation from former practice which has thrown additional duties both upon the Accountant and Deputy Superintendent [meaning himself] since the first July, 1867. I allude to the present mode of making all payments by cheque issuing from the Indian office instead of as originally from that of the Receiver General.
A further change, adding also to the work of the Indian Office has been the drafting of descriptions for patents formerly carried on in the Crown Lands Department, the engrossing from which description has of late been done in the office of the Registrar General.
The Indian Office Staff has nevertheless had no addition made to it, so that the capacity of the gentlemen composing it has been tested to the utmost.
In the management of the Indian lands the object has for several years been steadily kept in view, of inducing actual settlement, thus promoting the great agricultural interests of the country, while giving an additional value to sufficiently contiguous unsold lands; and furnishing also from Indian funds substantial aid towards opening out
leading roads.
Settlers in Saugeen
Urgent complaints having been made that settlers in the Saugeen Districts were hemmed in by unoccupied lands of absentee purchasers, the resumption of a large number of lots upon which none but the first instalments had been paid, and the period for the remaining payments had expired was effected in the spring of 1867. This proceeding has opened for actual settlement some of the most desirable lands in that part of the Province of Ontario, and which have been freely purchased by persons
proposing to farm in that quarter.
The easy terms of payment by five instalments are well adapted to the agricultural class of purchasers, and admit, too, of better prices being realized. The selling on time instead of all cash down affording an accommodation similar to that, to which in transactions one with another they are accustomed and is therefore the more acceptable to them.
The lands resumed and reopened for sale bring the disposable lands in the
Peninsula up to 240,000 acres.
In reference to the construction of roads in the Saugeen Peninsula, by the co-operation which had been arranged between your department and the municipal authorities, the assistance supplied from indian funds has resulted in the opening out of leading roads having a commencement upon the Own Sound and Saugeen graveled road, and which have been carried northward for up into the township of Albemarle. This work while offering inducements and valuable facilities to the settlers in affording access
to the lands does unquestionable promote the sale of those still disposable and we make the calculation that the outlay is soon repaid from the earlier, larger and better sales which are in consequence effected. The contemplated continuation of the main line of road to the northern extremity of the Peninsula for which the estimated cost has been provided for by you under sanction of an Order in Council cannot fail to attract settlers.
Licensed surveyor Charles Rankin computes that upon this continuation, there will be about 200 farm lots of fair quality. The road will terminate at the safe and convenient harbor of Tobor Moray, distant about 25 miles from Thomas Bay and about 5 miles more from Heywood Sound, generally known now as “South Bay,” on the great Manitoulin Island. It is anticipated that when settlement shall have sufficiently
progressed upon the island and the northerly coast of Lake Huron, the route up the Peninsula, a distance of somewhat over 50 miles, shortening as it will for a winter transport of mails, the journey as now made around the eastern coast of Lake Huron, (for a considerable distance a desolate region) by about 150 miles, will become a great highway to the mining districts, the Sault Ste. Marie and the Red River country. (The
Ontario and Huron and Bruce railway lines will form the first link in the chain of communication. ) It is believed that the traverse from Tobor Moray to the Island, can be passed by a suitable screw steamer throughout probably the whole winter. The interval as it is understood being seldom so obstructed by ice, as to prevent a steamer adapted for winter navigation making the passage.
An examination of the Continuation of the line of road with a view to locating it to the best possible advantage, which it is expected will prove it to be advisable to deviate in some degree from the line run under the name the Bury Road, when the Northern townships were laid out in survey, was commenced last autumn, and it is trusted that contracts for making the road will be entered into early in the coming season.
It may be proper to state assistance has also been given in the construction of one wharf and landing place on Colpoy’s Bay, on the North side of the township of Keppel; and another at the village of Wiarton.
The steamers touching at these places admit of supplies for the new settlers being the more conveniently and less expensively conveyed, and also for produce being carried to market at Owens Sound, the county town.
The construction of roads on the Manitoulin Island has likewise engaged your attention. [Spragge was at that time not very popular with the Anishnaabe on Manitoulin Island]
Two contracts entered into with T. Herrick Esq., surveyor and engineer, have been satisfactorily carried on, and one of them completed. The first section from Little Current now village of Shaftesbury to the village of Sheguiandah, a distance of rather more than 9 miles, and the second from the last named place to Manitowaning about 12 miles more, have been certified by Superintendent Plummer as satisfactorily constructed, and appear to be excellent roads of their class, well drained, and the
culverts, crossways, and bridges will planned and built. A branch road from that line to Michael Bay on the southern coast of the Island is in course of construction, under Mr. Plummer’s supervision. The latter road which leads to the vicinity of Messrs. Lyon and White’s Mill, will afford additional facilities for settlement. Mr Herrick who explored the line and located it, describes both lines explored by him as passing, upon the departure from the main line, through some miles of excellent land. Thin occurs a level limestone plain, extending about two miles, succeeded by a tract of about two and a half miles in length, of “rich land heavily timbered with maple, basswood, “beach, pine, cedar and oak.”
Mr. Herrick remarks in some spots the fires have burnt off fallen timber “many acres of land require only the removal of a few scattered logs to each “acre to afford rich and thoroughly cleared farms.” He continues, “on nearing the town “line of Tehkumah, a rich and heavily timbered country is entered on; which extends over “the Southern portion of sand field and entirely across Tehkumah until within about three “miles of Michael Bay.
I considered it advisable to insert these extracts that through the medium of this report such useful particulars calculated to inform the public mind as to what has been done in Indian affairs, and what the prospects are resulting therefrom, might be to some degree disseminated.
The nine townships upon the island which have been surveyed, consisting of Billing, Shegueandah, Howland, Bidwell, Assiginach, Tehkumah, Carnarvon, Campbell and Allan (under the charge of Mr. Plummer, the successor of Mr. Dupont) contain such a proportion of agricultural land, with considerable quantities of other land adapted for pasturage, (cattle do remarkable well upon the island) as to present advantages; enhanced by the island being less remote from the mining regions than the main
land, of which it is trusted many individuals about to seek for land for settlement will avail themselves, for the completion of the roads will now enable them the more readily to visit the lands open for sale.
In the vicinity of the Sault Ste. Marie and Batchewana, and Goulais Bay, no steps have yet been taken to open roads, as the prospects for disposing of lands in the hands of the Local Agent have not appeared to warrant an expenditure for that object.
The transfer of the Indian Affairs of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the Government of Canada has occupied as much attention on the part of your department as the limited amount of information available, has admitted of.
It would seem that no progress of importance has yet been made in prevailing with them to assent to forming themselves into communities similar to those which have long existed in Ontario and Quebec, where occupying farms or village lots they enjoy, in settled and permanent habitations, many of the comforts and advantages of civilization, combined with systematic and continuous education, and the pastoral care
of religious instructors.
This has been carried on with comparative ease with little aid from the Public chest. The revenues derived from invested Indian monies and annuities having supplied the required amount that nothing entitled to the name of revenues is derived from them; and the Parliamentary Annual Grants in the one of $1,300 and in the other $1,200, are hardly sufficient to relieve the pressing wants of the more indigent people, furnish medical attendance to the sick, and some clothing and blankets to those who most require them; and likewise supplies of seed grain to the few who have hitherto planted some of the land belonging to them. It should be the object of the Department to elevate the condition of those people, and the population return which will be found appended to this report will shew the number of Indians in each of those Provinces and
afford data to compute the amount required to assist them in any effectual degree.
The alternative presents itself either of allowing those Indians to continue in their present unprogressive state or to make a philanthropic effort to bring them up, to at least, the standard of the more advanced Indian communities in the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec; where in several bands, agriculture is the main support of their families, although as yet not managed, but in limited instances, with the requisite
skill. Nevertheless the training of the younger members of those bands is producing some satisfactory results and the formation of an Agricultural Society among the Six Nation Indians indicates an appreciation of good farming. Among the same people temperance societies have been some years in existence.
And the cause of good order is no doubt gaining ground, although occasionally interrupted, as might be expected in a settlement where the numbers approach three thousand, by the misconduct of persons with ill regulated minds: and the same with similar numbers of white persons is unfortunately continually witnessed. However, the present when compared with the former condition of those people affords  encouragement to attempt the amelioration of the state of the Indians in the Maritime
With reference to the Indians within the Province of Quebec it is requisite to state that the annual Grants for seed grain and the purchase of agricultural implements have, as authorized by Order in Council, been made in such a manner as to benefit very considerably the people for whom such aid was intended. And in the appendix will be found in detail the various sums allotted from the Lower Canada Indian Fund for those
objects, and likewise for the relief of the Indians on the North shore of the Lower St. Lawrence and gulf,  those in the vicinity of Lake St. John, and likewise those in the Restigouche, and the vicinity of the Bay of Chaleur, the township of Maria, and also other localities.
Algonquin Anishnaabe
There would seem, from the reports of the Agent, M. White, to be an increasing disposition on the part of the Indians, for whose benefit the lands in the Township of Maniwaki, on the River Gattineau and River Désert, were set apart, to avail themselves of the opportunity of taking up lands, and becoming settled there; and the establishment of schools both there and at Golden Lake, affords inducements thereto which the Indians are appreciating. The schools among the Iroquois of St. Regis, the Hurons of Lorette, the Abenakis of St. Francis, and also three schools at the Lake of Two Mountains, it will be perceived, on reference to the Tabular Statement marked M, are reasonable will attended, as are also those at the River Désert and Golden Lake, considering that the Indian population at the two last named places are but now settling down into communities, several of the families connected with which settlement resort to their hunting grounds at certain seasons of the years. There is
reason to believe that there is general evidence of progress among the Indians of the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and improvement in their habits of life. A portion of this is undoubtedly due to the personal influence of the clergy Who minister among them, exercised as it is for the repression of intemperance and vice, and for,the promotion of
industry and good order. An evidence of this will be found in the population return marked L, showing that in twenty-two settlements there is an increase in numbers, and in two only of those from which returns have been, received, is there a decrease. The sanitary condition of the settlements is beyond doubt much better than it was some years since. One cause of this is that the contagious diseases, such as smallpox, which
have at times swept off whole families, have, of late been guarded against; and at periods sufficiently near to each other it is our practice to require professional men to make so general a vaccination as to leave little room for apprehension of a repetition of such visitations. And the cause is the improved mode of living in comfortable
habitations, better diet, and better clothing, all of which assist in diminishing the number of cases of pulmonary disease to which the Indians when in semi-civilized state become liable.
It will be desirable to allude to the extensive fires in the woods, and especially those on the Manitoulin Island, which occasioned during the last year, suffering to many Indian families.
[Ah, yes, those frequent fires, so convenient to clear the land for settlers…]
But the assistance in supplies, furnished by the Department, mitigated in a very important degree the misfortune which befel them.
I proceed now to refer to the receipts and disbursements during the past financial year, but giving in the first place, the amount in full, of fresh sales effected during that period.
New sales, between 1st July, 1867 and 30th June, 1868, payment for which except in regard to small parcels of land, and lots sold at twenty cent per acre is received by five Annual instalments.
Total of Sales
The total amount from all sources placed to the credit of Indian funds
during the period referred to was
which may be placed under the following heads,

Receipts, from land and timber
Interest on investments
Annuities and grants
The payments and expenditure have amounted to
comprehended under the following heads.

Interest money and annuities periodically distributed among to the
Indians $128,338.89
Grants towards school teachers salaries, and school buildings
Clergymens’ salaries
Superintendents and medical officers’ salaries, paid chiefly from
funds belonging to the various bands; to interpreters, chiefs,
councillors and others; also payments; to old and infirm persons to, whom
the bands of which they are members have voted pensions
Construction of roads and other work
The Investments on the 1st July, 1867, bearing interest, amounted to
The amount at the credit of Indian funds on the 1st July, 1868, after deducting the payments and expenditure for the year then concluded,
It will be understood that the expense of surveys the construction of roads, special relief to various bands of Indians, assistance in the erection of school, buildings, and to other objects, diminished considerably the balance which would otherwise have been added to the invested funds.
With reference to provisions for ameliorating the condition of the Indians of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the amounts granted in the last Bill of Supply unsupplemented as formerly by aid from other sources, are entirely inadequate.
And I would suggest that a sum in each case not less than $2,500, be hereafter appropriated.
Detailed information similar to that contained in former periodical will be found in the Appendix to be attached hereto in the statements marked consecutively from A to B.
It is proper to refer to such Indian Reserves in the Province of Quebec as it is anticipated will for the chief part be opened for settlement.
There are the reserves in the Township of Viger near Isle Verte, in the County of Temiscouata, and Ouiatchouan, on Lake St. John Count, of Chicoutimi; Negotiations with the Indians owning which have been opened, with a view to the lands being yielded up and sold for their benefit, after providing for such families as have made improvements.
In each, there is a fair proportion of land suitable for settlement.
With regard to the Indian lands at St. Francis, Yamaska, some of the most valuable of which had been taken possession of by white settlers, an inspection has been made, and the requisite steps taken to secure satisfactory payment for them.
Ongwehonweh Never Give UP
Many complaints having been made by the Iroquois of Caughnawaga of the intrusion of persons not of Indian origin, and some of whom plundered their lands of its timber, & c., others who illegally vended spirituous liquors, active measure were adopted for their removal and for the termination without delay of the abuses complained of.
It may be advisable here to make reference to the misunderstanding at the Seigniory of the Lake of Two Mountains. The bands of Iroquois and Algonquin Indians settled there, entertained the impression that they had rights in the soil. An examination of the title given by the French Crown to the gentlemen of the Seigniory of St. Sulpice, and also of different statutes since passed by Parliament, has proved that the Indians have
in that Seigniory no rights whatever in the soil.
[Give me a break!! While the dust of Bill is rolling over, the struggle continues. The Truth is the Truth and will never go away. The Seigniory was given to the Sulpicians by the Crown of France who then turned ownership over to the Brits after their “defeat”. This doesn’t change original ownership by Indigenous.]
In the measures taken to remove the mis-aprehension the required explanations were given. [with a big stick…]
It having been found that the statutes in existence relating to Indian affairs required improvements for promoting the general welfare of the Indians; it is trusted that the new measure now in preparation, under your direction, will be found sufficient to meet not hitherto adequately provided for.
All which is submitted.
Ottawa, 10th April, 1869
http://www.collecti onscanada. gc.ca/databases/ indianaffairs/ 001074-119. 01-e.php? page_id_nbr= 39&PHPSESSID= ll2qmdkdp6cq85be hab2kjle74

See Manitoulin Treaties at

Related articles


Let's discuss!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s