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Thread: Alberta settlement and the Dominion Land Survey

  1. #1

    Default Alberta settlement and the Dominion Land Survey

    Some old population settlement history here:

    The whole of the present day Alberta was occupied by nine Indian tribes:
    - a few white traders around major fur trade posts such as Edmonton, Lac La Biche and Fort Chipweyan
    -North West Mounted Police posts in Calgary and Fort Macleod
    -descendants of Red River Settlement Métis in Catholic Missions such as Lac Ste Anne and St. Albert
    -and some Methodists from London, near Red Deer

    In 1881 it is estimated that only about one thousand white men considered Alberta home. However, the land was ready for settlement. The Dominion Land Survey, begun in 1871 in Manitoba and continued west through Saskatchewan, was well underway in Alberta. As early as 1873, the special land grants provided to the Hudson Bay Company as part of their deal with the government of Canada, were surveyed around posts in Edmonton, Lac La Nonne, Victoria, Rocky Mountain House, Assiniboine and over half a dozen others, amounting to some 3,000 acres.

    Four years later, the 14th base line was surveyed near Edmonton and, in 1878,
    surveyors ran the points of the 4th meridian. By 1881 work was started, surveying the townships in and around the Edmonton and Fort Macleod areas.
    When the initial township survey was adopted by the government, the settlements of St. Boniface (Red River Settlement), Qu’Appelle and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan, and Fort Edmonton in Alberta; communities already settled in the French Canadian river lot style—narrow lots extending back one to two miles along one or both sides of a river, were designated to retain their River Lot surveys. Métis settlements at Batoche in Saskatchewan and St. Albert and Lamoureaux in Alberta were ignored. So, in 1885, when the dissatisfaction of the Saskatchewan Métis manifested itself in the Riel Rebellion, an army of soldiers was sent to deal with the rebels. Their victory solidified the prairies as the domain of the English-speaking white man.

    About half of Alberta’s population is of British origin. Other nationalities include Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Scandinavian, Ukrainian, and Indian (18,000 American Indians reside on 90 reservations). Most migrations were from eastern Canada, Europe, and the United States in the early 1900s.

    Alberta History Genealogy - FamilySearch Wiki

    Bolding mine

    See also:

    Edmonton and the Klondike Gold Rush, Klondike Trail

    Dominion Land Survey: Part Two: Alberta
    Last edited by KC; 12-05-2018 at 06:45 AM.

  2. #2


    Library and Archives Canada acquires 80,000 maps and documents from the Canada Lands Survey Records collection - Library and Archives Canada

  3. #3


    Here’s a treasure trove of fascinating history.

    Clearly one to read right through start to finish!

    Excerpts here:
    Report for Gunn Métis Local No. 55 Participation in National Energy Board Hearing re: Kinder Morgan Transmountain Expansion
    Jonathan Clapperton, PhD
    May 25, 2015

    Purpose of Report
    This report examines and chronicles the archival and other documented evidence pertaining to the historic central practices and traditions integral to the way of life of the Métis population encompassing: Jasper and Grande Cache to the west, Lesser Slave Lake to the north, St. Albert to the east, and Buffalo Lake to the south (defined hereafter as “the Region”). It is my opinion that the Métis settlement of Lac Ste. Anne forms the central node of a broader Métis community encompassing the Region, and that this community emerged in the early nineteenth century. These connections were made, and maintained, through familial ties as well as the Métis’ mode of life characterized by regular travel among Métis settlements and during resource-getting or other social, cultural and economic activities, which maintained the Métis’ community cohesiveness and collective identity.

    “... Milton and Cheadle recorded the next year that they witnessed, in St. Albert, “very respectable farms, with rich corn-fields, large bands of horses, and herds of fat cattle,” and observed ploughs and other farming implements for use by the Métis, in addition to a corn mill under construction.63 Bishop Taché wrote, in 1864-5, “broad meadows had been cleared [at St. Albert], well fenced around and put under cultivation, and were already yielding abundant harvests.”64
    All historical accounts and scholarly appraisals suggest that by 1869-70, agriculture was growing in importance – even though most Métis families relied primarily on hunting for their food supplies. Rev. George M. Grant, in his visit to St. Albert in 1872, recorded that the land was “good, but, on account of its elevation, and other local causes, subject to summer frosts; in spite of these, cereals, as well as root crops, succeed when any care is taken. Last year they reaped on the mission farm twenty returns of wheat, eighteen of barley, sixteen of potatoes. Turnips, beets, carrots and such like vegetables, grow to an enormous size.”65 Beyond Lac Ste. Anne and St. Albert, Doll et. al. argue that the Buffalo Lake area, though established in large part by buffalo hunters, was nonetheless populated with many Métis who took advantage of the agricultural opportunities the site presented.66 Others have substantiated these observations, noting that agriculture occurred in the general Battle River-Buffalo Lake area.67
    During the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century, agriculture assumed greater importance with the decline of the bison. At Salvais’ Crossing, Joseph Tyrell commented, “In July, 1885, wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, turnips and Indian corn were well advanced, and I was informed that for the last seven years there had been no failure of crops, seven years being the length of time that my informant

    lived in that part of the country. A considerable number of horses, cattle and sheep were also seen around the houses, and all were in excellent condition.”68 Other indications of the importance of agriculture are, most noticeably, the river-lot pattern of settlement that developed in Lac Ste. Anne and St. Albert (See Figures 11-13) along with the decades of encouragement by the missionaries to have the Métis prioritize agriculture. Indeed, the missions at Lac Ste. Anne and St. Albert were set up in large part as a means to teach the Métis agriculture. Further, as noted, the Métis who moved from Lac Ste. Anne to establish St. Albert did so partially to take advantage of an environment better suited for farming.
    As with identifying agricultural dwellings, other structures, and improvements, one of the most useful sources of information demonstrating the existence of cultivation and fields are the homestead records derived from applications for property under the Dominion Lands Act conducted in Lac Ste. Anne in 1889-1891. In order to prevent settlers appropriating what the Métis viewed as their land, the Métis applied to have the Dominion government recognize the Métis’ historic occupation and to grant them title to their properties within a settler-colonial legal framework. Questions in the application form included the value of fencing as well as acreage “broken,” when it occurred, and the number of acres “cropped.” Examples include:
    ˇ The Métis claimant of lot 22 had broken 1⁄4 acre two years ago and planted on it both years since.
    ˇ Another form recorded that the Métis claimant had an acre cropped for a garden, and had done
    so for the last four years. Another had six acres on his claim broken, had $180 worth of fencing,
    and had planted crops every year for the last eight, except for two.
    ˇ Another Métis claimant had cleared about 2 acres, and had $50 worth of fence.69
    When considered in their entirety, these applications show that farms at Lac Ste. Anne were not large, most under five acres of land cleared and planted.
    Definite Tracts of Land for Hunting, Fishing and Exploiting Other Resources:
    For most Métis of the Region, even those at the more agriculturally-favorable St. Albert
    settlement, hunting and fishing was a central feature of life into the twentieth century. While much of this content is provided in Question 3, some additional material, especially that which identifies definite tracts of land elsewhere, needs to be noted.
    In particular, the Métis would regularly search for bison to the southwest as well as southeast of the Region. Missionaries usually accompanied the Métis while on their hunts, often recording the events and the places they went. Father Lacombe provides one such account, travelling in mid-June sometime in the 1850s on a buffalo hunt with 1300 people, and 1100 carts. The large party followed the Pembina River before eventually ending up at the Turtle Mountain area. The hunt was a resounding success with 800 buffalo killed, and several hundred Métis hunters even accompanied Lacombe to the crest of Turtle Mountain where they erected a cross.70 It seems likely that this area was a regular place of travel. In an entry for the Edmonton Post Journal for 3 December 1856, for instance, two men, at least one of whom was Métis, returned with “bad news that there are no Buffalo near Rocky mountain House.”71
    Last edited by KC; 12-05-2018 at 06:57 AM.

  4. #4


    More here - updated history in a new book:

    Peace Country allure depicted in new book
    Thursday, November 30, 2017 5:53:35 MST



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