The Manitoulin Island Treaty – Great Manitoulin Island

Some years after the completion of the Robinson Treaties, the then Government of the old Province of Canada deemed it desirable to effect a treaty with the Indians dwelling upon the Great Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, as a complement to the former treaties, and with the object of rendering available for settlement the large tract of good land upon the Island. The duty was entrusted to the Honorable William McDougall, then Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs, who, in the month of October, 1862, proceeded to the Island, accompanied by the late William Spragge, Esq., Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Mr. F. Assicknack, of the Indian Office, Toronto, as interpreter. Mr. McDougall encountered considerable difficulties, but by firmness and decision eventually succeeded in obtaining a surrender from the Indians of the Island, excluding however from the surrender that portion of it easterly of Heywood Island and the Manitoulin Gulf.

The terms of the treaty, which will be found in the Appendix, were adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the Indians and were well and wisely framed. The result has been to render available for settlement a large tract of land on the Island, much of which is now occupied by a prosperous and thriving population. I conclude this brief notice of an important treaty by submitting, to the attention of the reader, the report of the Hon. W. McDougall, to His Excellency the Governor-General in Council, of the results of his mission.

Articles of agreement and convention made and concluded at Manitowaning, on the Great Manitoulin Island, in the Province of Canada, the sixth day of October, Anno Domini 1862, between the Hon. William McDougall, Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs, and William Spragge, Esquire, Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, on the part of the Crown and Government of said Province, of the first part, and Mai-she-quong-gai, Oke-mah-be-ness, J. B. Assiginock, Benjamin Assiginock, Mai-be-nesse-ma, She-no-tah-gun, George Ah-be-tos-o-wai, Paim-o-quo-waish-gung, Abence, Tai-bose-gai, Ato-wish-cosh, Nai-wan-dai-ge-zhik, Wan-kan-o-say, Keesh-kewan-bik, Chiefs and principal men of the Ottawa, Chippewa, and other Indians occupying the said Island, on behalf of the said Indians, of the second part:

Whereas, the Indian title to said Island was surrendered to the Crown on the ninth August, Anno Domini 1836, under and by virtue of a treaty made between Sir Francis Bond Head, then Governor of Upper Canada, and the Chiefs and principal men of the Ottawas and Chippewas then occupying and claiming title thereto, in order that the same might “be made the property (under their Great Father’s control) of all Indians whom he should allow to reside thereon;”

And whereas, but few Indians from the mainland whom it was intended to transfer to the Island, have ever come to reside thereon;

And whereas, it has been deemed expedient (with a view to the improvement of the condition of the Indians, as well as the settlement and improvement of the country), to assign to the Indians now upon the Island certain specified portions thereof, to be held by patent from the Crown, and to sell the other portions thereof fit for cultivation to settlers, and to invest the proceeds thereof, after deducting the expenses of survey and management, for the benefit of the Indians;

And whereas, a majority of the Chiefs of certain bands residing on that portion of the Island easterly of Heywood Sound and the Manitoulin Gulf have expressed their unwillingness to accede to this proposal as respects that portion of the Island, but have assented to the same as respects all other portions thereof; and whereas the Chiefs and principal men of the bands residing on the Island westerly of the said Sound and Gulf have agreed to accede to the said proposal:

Now this agreement witnessed that in consideration of the sum of seven hundred dollars now in hand paid (which sum is to be hereafter deducted from the proceeds of lands sold to settlers), the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, and in further consideration of such sums as may be realized from time to time as interest upon the purchase money of the lands to be sold for their benefit as aforesaid, the parties hereto of the second part have and hereby do release, surrender and give up to Her Majesty the Queen, all the right, title, interest and claim of the parties of the second part, and of the Ottawa, Chippewa and other Indians in whose behalf they act, of, in and to the Great Manitoulin Island, and also of, in and to the Islands adjacent, which have been deemed or claimed to be appertinent or belonging thereto, to have and to hold the same and every part thereof to Her Majesty, her heirs and successors forever.

And it is hereby agreed by and between the parties hereto as follows:

Provided, 1st. That the lots selected shall be contiguous or adjacent to each other, so that Indian settlements on the Island may be as compact as possible.

2nd. That if two or more Indians claim the same lot of land, the matter shall be referred to the Resident Superintendent, who shall examine the case and decide between them.

3rd. That selections for orphan children may be made by their friends, subject to the approval of the Resident Superintendent.

4th. Should any lot or lots, selected as aforesaid, be contiguous to any bay or harbor, or any stream of water, upon which a mill site shall be found, and should the Government be of opinion that such lot or lots ought to be reserved for the use of the public, or for village or park lots, or such mill site be sold with a view to the erection of a mill thereon, and shall signify such its opinion through its proper agent, then the Indian who has selected, or who wishes to select such lot, shall make another selection; but if he has made any improvements thereon, he shall be allowed a fair compensation therefor.

5th. The selections shall all be made within one year after the completion of the survey, and for that purpose plans of the survey shall be deposited with the Resident Superintendent as soon as they are approved by the Department of Crown Lands, and shall be open to the inspection of all Indians entitled to make selections as aforesaid.

Thirdly–The interests which may accrue from the investment of the proceeds of sales of lands as aforesaid, shall be payable annually, and shall be apportioned among the Indians now residing westerly of the said Sound and Gulf, and their descendants per capita, but every Chief lawfully appointed shall be entitled to two portions.

Fourthly–So soon as one hundred thousand acres of the said land is sold, such portion of the salary of the Resident Superintendent, and of the expenses of his office as the Government may deem equitable, shall become a charge upon the said fund.

Fifthly–The deeds or patents for the lands to be selected as aforesaid, shall contain such conditions for the protection of the grantees as the Governor in Council may, under the law, deem requisite.

Sixthly–All the rights and privileges in respect to the taking of fish in the lakes, bays, creeks and waters within and adjacent to the said Island, which may be lawfully exercised and enjoyed by the white settlers thereon, may be exercised and enjoyed by the Indians.

Seventhly–That portion of the Island easterly of Heywood Sound and Manitoulin Gulf, and the Indians now residing there, are exempted from the operation of this agreement as respects survey, sale of lots, granting deeds to Indians, and payment in respect of moneys derived from sales in other parts of the Island. But the said Indians will remain under the protection of the Government as formerly, and the said easterly part or division of the Island will remain open for the occupation of any Indians entitled to reside upon the Island as formerly, subject, in case of dispute, to the approval of the Government.

Eighthly–Whenever a majority of the Chiefs and principal men at a council of the Indians residing easterly of the said Sound and Gulf, to be called and held for the purpose, shall declare their willingness to accede to the present agreement in all respects and portions thereof, and the Indians there shall be entitled to the same privileges in every respect from and after the date of such approval by the Government, as those residing in other parts of the Island.

Ninthly–This agreement shall be obligatory and binding on the contracting parties as soon as the same shall be approved by the Governor in Council.

In witness whereof the said Superintendent-General of Indian affairs, and Deputy Superintendent, and the undersigned Chiefs and principal men of the Ottawa, Chippewa and other Indians have hereto set their hands and seals at Manitowaning, the sixth day of October, in the year first above written.


Executed in the presence of (having been first read, translated and explained):

PETER JACOBS, Church of England Mission.

The undersigned is one of the Chiefs of the Wequainorekong band, and appends his signature in testimony of his general approval and his assent as an individual to all the terms of the above agreement.


MANITOWANING, October 6th, 1862.

Memorandum from Captain Ironside of Indian settlements on the Manitoulin Island:

Che-to-wai-e-gun-ning (West).
Ohe-to-wai-e-gun-ning (East).

November 3rd, 1862

The undersigned has the honor to state for the information of His Excellency the Governor-General in Council, that, under the authority of the Order in Council of the twelfth day of September, 1862, he proceeded early in the month of October last to visit the Great Manitoulin Island, accompanied by William Spragge, Esq., Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Mr. F. Assicknack of the Indian Office, Toronto, as interpreter.

The resident agent, Captain Ironside, under instructions from the Department, had caused the Indians residing on the Island to be notified of the intended visit of the undersigned, and of its object and had summoned them to attend at Manitowaning on the fourth ultimo.

The Chiefs and principal men, with the exception of one or two detained by illness and nearly all the males above the age of eighteen years, were present at the council.

The undersigned stated the object of his visit, explained the wishes of the Government in regard to the settlement of the Island, and proposed the terms in respect to the Indians specified in the Order in Council authorizing the negotiation. The Indians had selected one of their Chiefs to reply to the overtures of the Government, and without taking time to consider these overtures he proceeded to announce the determination of the Indians to reject them unconditionally.

The undersigned made some further explanations and directed an adjournment of the council for an hour, during which time the Indians were requested to consider the propositions he had made with care and deliberation.

On re-assembling there was an evident disposition among the bands living westwardly of the place of meeting to listen favorably to the propositions of the Government, but the majority were still unwilling to treat, and by intimidation and threats of violence prevented any open expression of opinion except by the old war Chief, Assicknack, who declared his full assent to the wishes of the Government.

Ascertaining that the Chief’s opposition came from Indians living eastwardly of Heywood Sound, the undersigned determined to modify the propositions of the Government, so as to meet in some degree the objections from that quarter.

He accordingly adjourned the council until the following Monday, the first day of meeting being Saturday, informing the Indians that those who were disposed to continue the negotiations would remain while those who had resolved to reject every proposition of the Government might go home. He also informed them that no threats or intimidation would be allowed, and that any one who should attempt violence would be surely punished. Nearly all the Indians remained or returned on Monday, and being apprised of the nature of the proposition the undersigned intended to submit, namely, to exclude that part of the island eastwardly of the Manitoulin Gulf and Heywood Sound from the proposed agreement, they came to the adjourned meeting in a more friendly mood and expressed their willingness to surrender for sale and settlement all that part of the island westwardly of the Gulf and Sound.

The undersigned submits herewith the deed or instrument which embodies the agreement made and concluded between the respective parties. It was executed by the undersigned and the Deputy-Superintendent of Indian Affairs on behalf of the Government, and by nineteen of the Chiefs and principal men on behalf of the Indians.

In consequence of the modification of the terms of agreement authorized by the Order in Council as above-mentioned and the addition of other terms deemed necessary to prevent future difficulty, and which will be found in the instrument, the undersigned caused a provision to be inserted that it was not to take effect until approved by the Governor-General in Council.

The undersigned therefore now begs to submit the same for such approval.

(Signed) WM. Mcdougall, Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs.

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