Treaty 8 Commission

Overview

Since the inauguration of the North-West Half-Breed Scrip Commission in 1885, Métis residents of the North-West Territories had made frequent representations to the federal government pointing out that children born between the 15th of July, 1870, and the commencement of the 1885 Commission's sittings were entitled to the same treatment as those born prior to 15th July, 1870 (under the Dominion Lands Act only Métis born before 15 July, 1870, were entitled to scrip). The 15th of July, 1870, was originally selected by the government as the cut-off date applicable to Métis land claims, since this was the day on which Rupert's Land passed into the custody of the Dominion of Canada. However, the Métis argued that their land rights were not affected by this transfer. Whatever territorial rights they had by virtue of their "Indian blood" prior to the transfer, also existed after the transfer. The first interference with such rights would only occur when a surrender was effected of the territory by the Indians.

The Métis claim was given credence by the Legislative Assembly of the North-West Territories when it was officially endorsed in resolutions passed by the Assembly in 1887, 1888, and 1889 (correspondence surrounding the resolution can be found in RG 15, vol. 401, file 103,598, "Resolutions passed by the North-West Council on 15 December [1885-1891]"). A final resolution passed on 31 August, 1894 was dispatched to the Governor-General-in-Council and was formerly acknowledged in Order-in-Council, P.C. 503J, 16 October, 1894. Since the federal government was now wanting to negotiate the surrender of the District of Athabasca and adjoining country with the Indians (Treaty 8), department officials feared that the Métis would use their influence with the Athabascans to make a settlement extremely difficult, unless their request was recognized. Consequently, in 1899 the Minister of the Interior personally investigated the matter, and prudently came to the conclusion that the Métis claim was well founded. "... [H]e is of opinion that Indian and Half-Breed rights are co-existent and should properly be extinguished concurrently. When Half-Breed rights are not so extinguished, they must, he [the Minister] considers, be held to exist after the extinguishment of the Indian title and up to such time as action is duly taken for their extinguishment" (P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899, p. 2).

Accordingly, the Dominion Lands Act, which provided that only Métis residents of the North-West Territories born previous to the 15th of July, 1870, were entitled to participate in the distribution of land grants in connection with the extinguishment of their aboriginal title, was amended on 11 August, 1899 (i.e., Revised Statutes of Canada, 1886, c. 54, s. 90, par. f, was amended by 62-63 Vic., c. 16, s. 4). The revision made it possible for the federal government to issue grant lands in satisfaction of Métis claims arising out of the extinguishment of their Indian title, without any restrictions as to the date of birth of the Métis claimant. All Métis who were bona fide residents of the territory, up to the time that action was taken for the extinguishment of their land rights, were now eligible for scrip. In other words, the date governing the residence of the claimants was to be, in future, that of the Indian treaty.

Since it was now obvious that "...while differing in degree, Indian and Half-Breed rights in an unceded territory must be co-existent, and should properly be extinguished at the same time," (P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899, p. 1.) the federal government passed Order-in-Council P.C. 918, on the 6th of May, 1899. Under this authority, the Department of the Interior was obliged to establish a Commission to negotiate the claims of the Métis residing in the territory which was to be surrendered by the Indians under Treaty 8. This policy of negotiating scrip claims at the same time as treaty settlements were being made with the Indians would be followed by all further scrip Commissions. The Treaty 8 Commission was "to act under the direction of the Hon. David Laird, Chairman of the Indian Commission" (P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899, p. 3). It was authorized to issue scrip redeemable in land, to each Métis applicant on proof of residence, to the extent of $240, or at the option of the claimant, 240 acres of land of a class open to homestead entry. For the first time in the history of the scrip commissions, no distinction was to be made in the amounts to be received by Métis children and heads of families. All claims, no matter the age or relationship of the individual, were to be satisfied by an issue of scrip for $240 or 240 acres. Once again, this precedent would be followed by all future Commissions.

The Treaty 8 Commission was also given the authority to investigate Métis claims outside the Athabasca District, in those areas of the North-West Territories already ceded. Any resident of the North-West Territories born between the 15th of July, 1870 and the end of 1885, could theoretically make their representation before the Commissioners, and would be entitled to an issue of scrip redeemable in land to the extent of $240, or to scrip for 240 acres of land of a class open to homestead entry (P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899, p. 2). However, in reality the sittings held by the Treaty 8 Commissioners were limited to the treaty area and the number of claims accepted by the Commission from outside the treaty area were minimal.

Dates

29 May, 1899 to 23 September, 1899

Authorities

Order-in-Council: P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899; Statutes: 62-63 Vic., c. 16, s. 4, 1899

Members

James Walker and Joseph A. Coté, Commissioners (P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899); Charles Mair and J.F. Prudhomme, clerks (P.C. 1094, 25 May, 1899)

Reports

Final report and operational records of the Commission can be found in RG 15, Series D II 1, vol. 771, file 518158, title: "James A. Walker, J.A. Coté, Half-Breed Commission for Athabasca and Area [1899-1954]"

Sittings

Lesser Slave Lake, Peace River Crossing, Fort Dunvegan, Wolverine Point, Fort Vermilion, Fort Chipewyan, Smith's Landing, Fort McMurray, Lake Wabascaw, Pelican Portage, Grand Rapids, Calling River Portage, Athabasca Landing, and Wapiscan.

Awards

A total of 1,243 claims were investigated; 1,195 money scrip certificates issued for $286,800 and 48 land scrip certificates issued for 11,520 acres.

Applications

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 8c, Applications, 1886-1906, 8.85 m, vols. 1333 to 1371; microfilm reels C-14943 to C-15010.

This series contains applications for scrip made from 1886 to 1906 by Métis applying to the North-West Commissions, the Alberta-Saskatchewan Commission, the Commissions for Treaties 8, 10, and 5, and all their adhesions. The applications give the name of the applicant, his/her place of residence, place and date of birth, name of parents and racial origins, marital status, dependents names, etc. Finding aid FA15-21, parts 1 to 15, is an alphabetical index to all the scrip applications in this series, including the Treaty 8 applications. The finding aid is also available on microfilm reel C-14943, and in Archives Search.
 
The applications have been integrated and filed alphabetically by the name of the applicant. Although the records may have been physically consolidated, it is still possible to separate, intellectually, the Treaty 8 applications by using the claims registers (RG 15, volumes 1485 or 1529). Both registers are alphabetical indexes of all recipients of scrip under the Treaty 8 Commission, noting for each entry, the name of the applicant, his/her place of birth, and parents' names. Volume 1485 gives each recipient's scrip certificate number, and volume 1529 gives the recipient's claim number.
 
If researchers can not find a particular application in this series, they should then investigate the central registry of the Dominion Lands Branch, RG 15, series D II 1 (described elsewhere). It is always possible that the application was withdrawn by departmental administrators and placed in a case file in the department's central registry. This generally happened whenever the department was required to give special consideration to an application. If a case file was created for a particular application, the file number should be indicated in the delivery registers, (RG 15, volumes 1519 or 1520). Researchers can use the file number to find the entry in finding aid FA15-5. The latter will give researchers an indication as to which volume in Record Group 15 should be consulted if they wish to obtain access to the original case file.

Scrip Certificates

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 8e, Certificates for Scrip, 1885-1906, 3.15 m, vols. 1373 to 1386. Certificates (numbers A1 to A1214 and B1 to B58) were issued by the Treaty 8 Commissioners to Métis who were entitled to partake in the distribution of scrip. The certificates give the place and date of issue, the name of the recipient, the amount and type of the scrip, and the name of the commissioner. The records are organized by the certificate registration number. Certificates A1 to A600 are located in volume 1374; A601 to A1212 in volume 1375; and B1 to B58 in volume 1376.
 
To find the certificate issued to a particular individual researchers have two choices. They can either use the claims register for the Treaty 8 Commission (RG 15, volume 1485) or the delivery registers (RG 15, volumes 1519 and 1520). As described elsewhere, both registers are alphabetical indexes, organized according to the last name of the recipient. They provide the certificate registration number for each claimant who was awarded scrip by the Treaty 8 Commission.
 
Once the certificate registration number is known, researchers can then refer to finding aid FA15-23 to find the volume number in RG 15 where the original document is stored. If the scrip certificate is not found in this series, it is always possible that a copy was placed in the applicant's case file, if such was created by the department. The case files were placed in the central registry of the Dominion Lands Branch, and are now retained by Library and Archives Canada as RG 15, series D II 1 (described elsewhere). If a case file was created for a particular claim, the file number will be indicated in the delivery registers (RG 15, volumes 1519 or 1520).
 

Money Scrip

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 8f, Money Scrip to Métis, 1876-1927, 3.0 m, vols. 1387 to 1403.

This series contains all the cancelled notes for money scrip awarded by the Department of the Interior to Métis claimants of the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories. The notes issued by the Treaty 8 Commission are not identified in this series as a separate block of records, but instead are inter-filed with the notes awarded by all the Métis scrip commissions. The scrip was awarded to Métis heads of families and to children of Métis heads of families in the amount of $240. The payment was broken down into notes of $80 (numbers A1501 to A2039) and $160 (numbers A10001 to A10540). With the exception of most of the residents of Lesser Slave Lake, recipients of the $80 scrip are listed, in order of scrip number, in finding aid FA15-24, part 19; and the recipients of the $160 scrip notes are listed in finding aid FA15-24, part 23. Scrip recipients living at Lesser Slave Lake (both $80 and $160 scrip) are listed in the first half of finding FA15-24, part 27. All three finding aids note the scrip number, the date of issue, the amount awarded, the certificate number, the date the certificate was issued, the name of the recipient, and remarks. In some cases, the "remarks" column provides the land description to which the scrip was applied, the patentee's name, and/or the name of the person or company to which the scrip was assigned.
 
To find the money scrip awarded to a specific claimant when the scrip number is unknown, researchers will have to obtain the registration number from the delivery registers (RG 15, volumes 1519 and 1520, described elsewhere). These registers are organized alphabetically, according to the last name of the claimant. Researchers can then use this number to find the appropriate entry in finding aid 15-24 which will then provide the RG 15 volume number where the original document is stored.

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 8i, Land Scrip to Métis, 1885-1917, 1.1 m, vol. 1406 to 1410.

Cancelled scrip notes issued to Métis claimants by the Department of the Interior in exchange for the extinguishment of their Indian title. The grants were for a total of 240 acres of homestead lands, and were allotted in scrip notes of 80 acres and 160 acres. RG 15, volumes 1539 and 1543 (described elsewhere) serve as location registers for scrip notes of 160 acres; and volumes 1540 and 1544 (described elsewhere) for scrip notes of 80 acres. Scrip notes issued in fractional acres - as in the case of scrip acquired through an inheritance - are listed in RG 15, volume 1541 (described elsewhere). All the above registers are organized by scrip number, with each entry providing the name of the allottee, the name of the patentee, the land description, acreage, date of patent, and the liber and folio numbers of the Letters Patent, which are now retained by Library and Archives Canada in RG 15, series D II 10.
 
The land scrip retained by Library and Archives Canada is grouped according to the amount of the scrip (i.e., 80 acres or 160 acres), and in numerical order within each group. Finding aid FA15-13 will guide researchers to the volume in RG 15 where the note is stored; but to use this finding aid researchers must know the scrip number. To find the note awarded to a particular claimant when the number of the scrip note is unknown, researchers should first refer to the delivery registers (RG 15, volumes 1519 and 1520, described elsewhere) to obtain the scrip note number, and then to finding aid FA15-13 to find the RG 15 volume number where the note is stored.

Receipts

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 8j, Receipts for Métis Scrip, 1885-1906, 2.25 m, vols. 1411 to 1420.

Pre-printed receipts were distributed by the Department of the Interior along with money and land scrip. The receipts were issued to the Minister of the Department and were to be signed by scrip recipients when the notes were delivered into their custody. Since scrip was only first issued under the Manitoba Supplementary Commission (P.C. 810, 20 April, 1885), these records date from June 1885. They are part of the documentation pertaining to all the Commissions which followed the Manitoba Supplementary Commission, except the last - the Treaty 11 Commission - which made cash settlements only.
 
Each receipt carries a unique number ranging from 1 to 15,700. The records are maintained by Library and Archives Canada in their numerical order. Finding aid FA15-26, parts 1 to 16, provides access to the records. Under each receipt number, it gives the RG 15 volume number which contains the original document; the name of the recipient; the recipient's application status (heir, child, etc.); the land or money scrip number; the amount of the receipt (in dollars or acres); the date of issue; and sometimes the scrip certificate number and the case file number.
 
In instances when the receipt number is unknown and only the claimant's name is available, researchers should first consult the delivery registers (RG 15, volumes 1519 and 1520, described elsewhere). The delivery registers are an alphabetical index to all the recipients of scrip. Among other things, they will give the number of the receipt signed by each claimant. Researchers can then use this number to find the entry for the receipt in finding aid FA15-26. The finding aid will then give researchers an indication as to which volume in Record Group 15 should be ordered if they wish to obtain access to the original document.
 

Subject Files

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 1, Dominion Lands Branch, Correspondence, Headquarters, 1871-1946, 213.6 m, vols. 227 to 1176; Microfilm reels T-12176 to T-15542.

A numerically arranged series of subject files created by the Dominion Lands Branch. The series touches on all aspects of land management and natural resource administration by the Department of the Interior, including Métis land claims. The records included in this series contain general correspondence and departmental memoranda relating to rulings, policy, and procedures, which governed the operations of the Métis scrip commissions. It also contains case files relating to the awards given to individual Métis families. The files are numbered sequentially from 1 to 5,644,152 and are listed, in numerical, order in finding aid FA15-5. A copy of the electronic finding aid is available in Archives Search.

Registers/Indexes

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 8 m, North-West Half-Breeds and Original White Settlers, Registers and Indexes, 1877-1927, 4.5 m, vols. 1475 to 1555; microfilm reels C-11872 to C-11885.

[Nominal Index] North-West Half-Breed Supplementary Claims. Authority, chap. 54, sec. 90, sub-sec. F. Revised Statutes of Canada, and Order-in-Council of ...[6th May,1899]

A register of claimants appearing before the Treaty 8 Commission, as authorized by P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899. The register is organized by claim (application) number, with each entry noting the name and residence of the applicant; his/her date of birth; the date of the declaration; the decision of the Commission (whether or not the claim was allowed); and the scrip certificate number.
 
To use this register when the claim (application) number is unknown, researchers have two choices. They can either consult the alphabetical index to the claims register (RG 15, volume 1529, described elsewhere), or finding aid FA15-21, both of which are organized according to the claimant's name and provide the claim number.
 
Claims 001 to 601; RG 15, vol. 1486, Aperture Card Book 69, reel C-11874

[Alphabetical] Index North-West Half-Breed Supplementary Claims, Authorized by chap. 54, sec. 90, sub-sec. F., R.S.C., and Order-in-Council of ...[6th May, 1899]

An alphabetical list of applicants listed in the claims register for the Treaty 8 Commission (volume 1486). Each entry provides the name of the applicant, his/her residence, the names of the applicant's parents, and the scrip certificate number.
 
RG 15, vol. 1485, Aperture Card Book 68, reel C-11874
 

Halfbreeds who received scrip in 1899, Athabasca District, Treaty No. 8

An alphabetical list of applicants listed in the claims register for the Treaty 8 Commission (volume 1486). Each entry provides the name of the applicant, his/her date of birth, and the names of the applicant's parents, and the applicant's claim number.
 
RG 15, vol. 1529, Aperture Card Book 112, reel C-11881

Location Register of North-West Half-Breed Land Scrip...(Authority - Order in Council of 6th May, 1899, and subsequent Orders in Council)

These registers serve as an index to the lands which were patented to holders of Métis scrip awarded under P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899. The registers are organized according to the type of land scrip awarded (80 acres, 160 acres, or fractional acres) and then by scrip number. Each entry provides the date of the application, the name of the allottee (or claimant), the name of the patentee, the land description to which the scrip was applied, the date on which the Letters Patent was awarded, the liber and folio number of each land patent, the file number (if such was created by the department), and general remarks by departmental administrators. If the land was assigned to another individual, then the name of the assignee is indicated along with the assignment number. The land assignments are now held by Library and Archives Canada in RG 15, series D II 8l (vols. 1424 to 1474). The liber and folio numbers for the Letters Patent listed in these registers are now found in RG 15, series D III 10.
 
To use these registers when the scrip number is unknown, researchers should first obtain the scrip number from the delivery registers (i.e., RG 15, volume 1519 and 1520). As described elsewhere, the delivery registers are organized alphabetically and will provide, among other things, a summary statement on the nature and type of scrip awarded to a claimant and the scrip numbers.
 

For lands awarded to holders of 80 acre scrip notes, see:

  • Register 1; scrip nos. A1501 to A3000; RG 15, vol. 1540, Aperture Card Book 123, reel C-11882
  • Register 2; scrip nos. A5001 to A6000;RG 15, vol. 1544, Aperture Card Book 127, reel C-11883
For lands awarded to holders of 160 acre scrip notes, see:
  • Register 1; scrip nos. A0001 to A1500; RG 15, vol. 1539, Aperture Card Book 122, reel C-11882
  • Register 2; scrip nos. A4001 to A5000; RG 15, vol. 1543, Aperture Card Book 126, reel C-11883

For lands awarded to holders of fractional acre scrip, see:

  • Register 1; scrip nos. A3001 to A3306; RG 15, vol. 1541, Aperture Card Book 124, reel C-11882
 

Register of Delivery of Manitoba and North-West Territory Scrip, Orders in Council of 30th March and 20th April, 1885 [and All Subsequent Orders]

These registers document the delivery of scrip to claimants filing under the Manitoba Supplementary Commission, the North-West Half-Breed Commissions, the Alberta-Saskatchewan Commission, and the Treaty 8, 10, and 5 Commissions, including all their adhesions. The registers are organized alphabetically according to the last name of the claimant. Each entry records the scrip number; the name and address of the person or agent to whom the scrip was issued; the date of scrip delivery; a brief description as to the authority (i.e., the Commission) under which the scrip was awarded; the amount and type of scrip issued; the application number (if applicable); the number and date of the receipt; the case file reference number; the certificate number; and a column for general remarks by departmental administrators. The registers are excellent sources for researchers to find documentation on a claimant's complete scrip record. They provide an alphabetical index to many of the records in RG 15 which have been filed under a numerical system. For example, the scrip certificates, scrip notes and scrip receipts are filed in RG 15 by the document number. The finding aids for these records either do not exist or consist of file lists organized under the numerical system. It can be a very tedious task to find such documents when the number is unknown. The registers described here will provide researchers with these numbers when only the claimant's name is known.
  • For deliveries made by the Treaty 8 Commission prior to July 1899:
    RG 15, vol. 1519, Aperture Card Book 102, reel C-11879-80
  • For deliveries made between August 1899 and December 1928:
    RG 15, vol. 1520, Aperture Card Book 103, reel C-11880

Dept. of the Interior, RG 15, Series D II 8 g, General Administrative Records Relating to Métis Scrip, Compiled by N.O. Coté, 1897-1913, 0.3 m, vol. 3171

N.W.H.B. Scrip, A0001-A1500

An alphabetical listing of the scrip issued to Métis claimants under the Treaty 8 Commissioned authorized by Order-in-Council, P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899. The index includes the name of the claimant and the number of the 160 acre scrip note assigned to each applicant. Only scrip notes A0001 to A1500 are included. These notes were issued in the amount of 160 acres. The same commission also issued scrip notes A4001 to A5000 for 160 acres; and scrip notes A1501 to A3000 and A5001 to A6000 for 80 acres, and scrip notes A3001 to A3306 for fractional acres. Presumably other indexes would have covered these other issues as well, but these have not been found. In effect, the "N.W.H.B. Scrip, A0001-A1500" is an alphabetical index to the scrip list in the location register which is now retained as RG 15, vol. 1539 (described elsewhere).
Date modified: