History and Folklore Summary
"Go West young man, and grow up with the country" was a common saying of
colonizing agents and other propagandists, urging men of Eastern Canada to
settle a large portion of a vast tract of land then known as the North West
Territories. However, there were important events that occurred prior to
settlement that set the stage for a peaceful and orderly colonization process.
These are outlined as follows:
- Negotiations began in 1869 by the British Crown to obtain the lands held or
claimed to be held and called "Rupertís Land" by the Hudsonís Bay Company. In
1870 the Dominion Government of Canada, to whom the lands had been transferred
from the British Crown obtained Rupertís Land and the North West Territories
paying the sum of 300,000 pounds sterling. The deal included allowing the
Company to retain 1/20th of the fertile belt (that is the lands south of the
North Saskatchewan River) and allowing it to continue in the trading business.
- Manitoba became a Province in May of 1870.
- An Act of Parliament respecting Currency was made in 1871: "To establish one
uniform currency for the Dominion of Canada." The British currency system was
discontinued and the dollar, silver coin and cent system was adopted.
- In 1872, the HOMESTEAD ACT was passed by the Dominion Government, opening up lands of Western Canada for settlement. A homestead was 160 acres, or one
quarter section. Those eligible to apply were: the sole head of a family, or any
male over eighteen years of age. A woman could apply if she was the sole head of
the family. The applicant had to appear in person at a Dominion Lands Office, or
sub-agency for the district. It was also possible to make entry by proxy,
depending on certain conditions. The homestead quarter was free. A charge of $10.00 was imposed as a
registration fee. The homesteader was required to reside on the land for 6
months per year for a duration of 3 years. He was also required to cultivate 30
acres during that period. After three years, if all conditions were met, he
could apply for title. If he was not born in Canada, or was not a British
subject, the homesteader had to apply for naturalization. Thus, he would
relinquish his citizenship to a foreign country, and acquire the rights and
privileges of a British subject residing in Canada. The government also enabled
the homesteader to purchase another quarter section, usually a neighbouring one
under the pre-emption policy.—A "Township" consisted of 36 sections. The even
numbered sections were for free homesteads and pre-emptions, except for section
8 and 26 set aside for the Hudsonís Bay Company, and section 11 and 29 in each
township was reserved for future erection of schools. Early township maps also
show odd numbered sections set aside for railway or public lands, or for
possible sale to colonization companies.
- The founding of a paramilitary force, the North West Mounted Police in 1873.
The Forceís famous march west into the Cypress Hills, in what is now
Saskatchewan, and in the Fort Macleod area of present day Alberta, was the
beginning of the establishment of law and order in Western Canada.
- In 1873, the Council of the North West Territories was founded, with
headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- NATIVE PEOPLE: Native tribes who occupied this region over the centuries
were Gros Ventres, Peigan, Blood, Blackfeet, Assiniboian, Cree, and Saulteaux.
It was with the signing of Treaty #4 at Fort Qu'Appelle in 1874 that 75, 000
square miles of land was surrendered to the Dominion of Canada. The lands of the
Yorkton region are part of this Treaty.
- DOMINION LANDS SURVEY: The north eastern part of this region was surveyed
- PROVISIONAL DISTRICT OF ASSINIBOIA: One of four provisional districts
established in 1882 to better govern the settlements of the North West
Territories, and as a first step eventually leading to the creation of
provinces. The boundaries of the District of Assiniboia were between 111
degrees, 4 minutes, and 112 degrees longitude, including the Milk River area
beyond Medicine Hat. To the east, to the Manitoba boundary 101 degrees, 3
minutes. The top latitude was at 52 degrees, and south to the 49th parallel.
Yorkton was located in the District of Assiniboia until the District was
incorporated into the Province of Saskatchewan in 1905.