House of Commons, 20 March 1876, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

Routine Business. [MARCH 20, 1876.] 729


Mr. SCHULTZ moved, seconded by Mr. Wright, that an humble Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General praying for copies of all acts passed by the North-West Council, and copies of all correspondence between the Government of Canada and the Lieut-Governor of the North- West Territories relative to any matters engaging the attention of the said Council. Mr. Schultz, said that he would have moved this Address without any reference to the Council whose functions were about to be supplanted by the new order of things, were it not that his attention was directed to the matter by an editorial in the Toronto Globe of the 25th February, a portion of which he would take the liberty of reading:—
"Heretofore the North-West Territory east and west of Manitoba has been governed by the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and a species of half advisatory, half legislative, Council of gentlemen chosen from among the residents in Winnipeg and its vicinity. They are themselves not slow to admit that their constitution is a farce, and it requires no effort of imagination in those even who have never been in the North-West to understand the impossibility of merchants and others in Winnipeg acting as a Legislature for the settlements on the Saskatchewan, and nearly a thousand miles away in the neighbourhood of the Rocky Mountains.
"At one of the last sittings of this Winnipeg Council, of which the former editor of the Nouveau Monde is a prominent member, it was proposed to incorporate the clergy of the missionary dioceses of the North-West with land-holding powers. The object of this was so apparent to those in Winnipeg, who have seen the effect of the system there, that it was strenuously opposed by some of the English members, but in spite of their efforts it was carried, and would have come to Ottawa with such force as this nondescript Council have been able to give to their legislation had not Lieutenant-Governor Morris refused to assent to the Bill."
Here was the utterance of a leading organ as to the value of this Council now about to cease to exist. There was a reference to certain Bills which were brought before the Council to incorporate religious bodies in the North- West, and where it was assumed that the Council had passed these; and they were only prevented from becoming law by the action of the Lieutenant- Governor who exercised his power to stop them. This statement he (Mr. Schultz) must characterize as utterly without foundation. It was true that such Bills were before the Council, but when the promoter of them found that the sense of the Council was against them, he withdrew, and it did not need the power of the Lieutenant- Governor to prevent any ill-considered and rash action of the Council itself. Of course it must always be a matter of opinion as to whether the services of this Council were valuable or not, but we have a more authoritative utterance than the last, which hon. gentlemen will find in the last report of the Minister of the Interior, who says:— "It is due to that Council to record " the fact that their legislation and "valuable practical suggestions sub"mitted to Your Excellency from time "to time through their official head, "Lieut.-Governor Morris, aided the "Government not a little in the good "work of laying the foundations of "law and order in the North-West, in "securing the good will of the Indian "tribes, and in establishing the prestige "of the Dominion Government through"out the vast territory."
730 The North-West Council. [Commons.]
Here is the estimate which the Hon. Minister specially charged with the care of North-West matters place upon the services of this Council. He (Mr. Schultz) being a member of this Council did not care to say much of its merits or otherwise, and would leave it for time to determine whether a body of men, many of whom if they did not now live in the North-West yet had the practical experience of years in connection with it, were not as to be of service as any Council to be appointed under the new system, and he trusted that the new Council would give that consideration to the suggestions and recommendations of the old which he felt their importance demanded. Among the papers which he hoped to have brought down by this motion, would be found valuable suggestions as to the preservation of the buffalo. He (Mr. Schultz) would urge the importance of this matter on the Government. So long as the buffalo were numerous there was little danger of difficulty with the Plain tribes of Indians with whom we were not being brought into contact. When these were extinct we must expect to deal with a race of paupers rendered dangerous by want of food. The Rev. Father Lascombe, a high authority of all such matters, believes in common with many others that is the present rate of destruction goes on the race of buffalo will be extinct in ten years. It is true that since the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad and the establishment of military and other settlements in Missouri, Father Lascombe estimates the number killed yearly during the winter at 80,000, and about the same number in summer. Their present feeding ground comprises a length of, say six hundred miles by about one hundred and fifty, and is bounded on the west by the Rocky Mountains, on the east by the Qu'Appelle Lakes, on the south by the Missouri and the north by the north branch of the Saskatchewan, and this limit is ever decreasing by the destruction caused by the hunters of the Saskatchewan on the north, those from the Missouri on the south and the Red River hunters on the east to an extent and rapidity so alarming that it is estimated by the Rev. Father and others that in ten years they will be extinct. Such a result is not at all improbable, since it is only a few years since the buffalo ranged east of the Red River, and since the last of the wood buffalo, an animal of the same species, but larger size, which ranged between the Saskatchewan and the Slave Lakes, was killed and the whole of the race is extinct. The use of the revolving pistol and the repeating refile instead of the ordinary leading gun has helped to bring this about, aided by the destruction caused by wolves, sickness, accidents of various sorts and the wasteful destruction of the buffalo pound. Unfortunately, too, it is the robe of the female buffalo which is the most valuable and when killed for it she is always with calf. It is her flesh which makes the best meat, and being more easily hunted down than the bulls, it has caused a destruction which has resulted in many of the bands met with last summer being composed of a proporton of six or seven males to one female. The district where buffalo are found has narrowed with startling rapidity during the last ten years, buffalo having about that time been seen by him (Mr. Schultz) east of Red River. These facts point strongly to the necessity of preventive measures, and the facts spoken of are so well known to the Indians and half-breeds that they are anxious the Government should take action in the matter if it were not for the fact that it would be impossible to prevent the killing of cows. At the same time there would be no objection to the killing of buffalo bulls at any season of the years, but since this is impossible a stringent law is demanded which will practically leave these animals undisturbed from the 1st November to 1st May, and an enactment to prevent the killing of calves at any season. If such a law were passed it is believed that in five years the buffalo would have to increased that these restrictions might be removed. He (Mr. Schultz) hoped that this matter would receive the consideration at the hands of the Government which its importance demanded, and that the papers bearing on this matter would be printed for the general information they would afford.
Sanitary Statistics. [MARCH 20, 1876.] 731
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE said the matter to which the hon member had particularly alluded-the preservation of the buffalo in the western prairies- has occupied a large share of the attention of the goverment for a considerable time.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Isabelle Carré-Hudson.

Personnes participantes: