Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next

 

HISTORY OF CANADA.   95

Champlain, thus leaving the greater part of what is now Ontario and all the great west without any settled form of government. To the east Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island were annexed to Nova Scotia, which then included what is now New Brunswick. Murray's commission directed him to call a "general assembly," and to govern the province according to laws to be passed with the consent of his council and assembly. No such assemblies were ever called by Murray, and in consequence the validity of the ordinances which he and his council passed from time to time was seriously questioned.

Indian Lands. —Another important provision was contained in the proclamation and repeated in the commissions to the governors. Private individuals, greedy traders and land speculators, had from time to time, sometimes by fair means but oftener by fraud and a free circulation of brandy, obtained huge grants of land from Indian tribes. The colonies, indeed, claimed in the king's name the right to the entire soil, and, without asking the Indians' consent, grants of land on the outskirts of settlement were freely made to favored individuals. This policy had resulted in frontier raids along the slopes of the Alleghanies and in western New York, and had culminated in the Pontiac war. By the proclamation it was ordered that this must all be stopped. Any lands, within or without the provinces, which might be required for purposes of settlement, must be fairly purchased from the Indian tribes, not by individuals, but officially by the government. These land regulations were the result of the representations of the Indian Commissioner, Sir William Johnson, who had seen the evil effects of the old systery along the Mohawk, where, it is said, he himself had not been guiltless in the matter of trading brandy for land. In Canada the policy laid down in the proclamation has ever since been followed. The older colonies upon gaining their independence abandoned it. The result has been, that while the western borders of the United States have seldom been without an Indian war, our relations with the aboriginal tribes have been, almost without exception, very friendly.

Civil Government Organized.—Murray's commission did not reach Quebec until August, 1764. He at once appointed a council of nine members, largely, if not entirely, men who had


Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next