Manitoba Act Section 31 Distribution of Land to the Children of the Half-Breed Heads of Families (1.4 million acres).

Many people are confused as to the process for Metis children to receive their land under the Manitoba Act. Many people think that the land was transferred by way of scrip issued to these children. The land was actually allotted by way of a lottery draw in each parish and subsequent notation in the Land Titles office of the land each child was to receive, by Township/Section/ and Range. Upon reaching age 21, the person would attend to the Land Titles office and receive a patent for their land. An Order-in-council of April 25, 1871 established that the Lieutenant Governor would conduct a lottery to carry out the children’s land grant. They began in the summer of 1872 when the Dominion Lands Survey was sufficiently advanced for the officials to choose blocks to make up the 1.4 million acres, in each township, located mostly behind the parishes where the children to whom the land was to be distributed lived. Complications arose and a commission consisting of two lawyers, Machar and Ryan, were appointed. They toured Manitoba in the summer of 1875 and approved 5,088 children’s claims (at 240 acres per claim). The drawings began during the last week of October 1876. They proceeded parish by parish but because of further delay were not completed until February of 1880. The Lottery As noted, the drawings and allotment of the lands began on October 30, 1876, under Morris' supervision. In a letter to Ottawa reporting the beginning of the drawing, the Lieutenant-Governor reopened the discussion as to the advisability of publishing lists containing a description of the allotment and the names of the allottees as soon as possible after the distribution had been approved by the Privy Council, and recommended again that the lands so allotted should vest in the allottees pending the issue of patents. 1 The Department of the Interior, in this instance, either viewed the suggestions with favour, or had already decided upon some such practice, because lists began to issue early in 1877, which described the allotments, designated the allottees, and stated that the claims of such allottees had been approved.2 The lists of children by parish were made up showing the location of the land they were to receive beside each child’s name. These were sent to Ottawa for Privy Council approval, then broadsides were made up for each parish and published. Because of the lengthy delays a number of the children were deceased by the time the lottery was done. In these cases the draw was completed and the notation of the broadside has the preface “Legal representatives of…” before the name of the deceased child.

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P.A.M. (LG), Letter Book M, Morris to Secretary of State, 2 November, 1876. P.A.M. Folio of these parish lists is on deposit.

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This is the upper right hand portion of the Broadside for St. Norbert Parish.

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More Delay All but seven of the parish allotments were completed in 1877 under LieutenantGovernor Morris’ supervision and 1,115 patents were issued in that year.3 Joseph Cauchon succeeded Morris as Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba on December 2, 1877, and although he was asked to proceed at once with the allotments in the remaining parishes, he declined to do so because of representations that were made to him concerning disputed claims which existed in some of the parishes.4 The Department of the Interior was forced to investigate these claims and as a result allotments in two parishes only were made during 1878.5 In that year, however, the Minister in order to facilitate the final disposal of the Halfbreed grant received authority to issue patents to all claimants irrespective of age or sex.6 Allotments were made during 1879 and the early months of 1880 in the five remaining parishes. Patent issue was practically completed in 1880, and it may be said that in that year the half-breed land grant in Manitoba was settled. Receiving Land Upon reaching age 21 the children could attend at the Land Titles office and obtain a patent for the land that was held in their name. Later, provision was made for judicially approved sales by children upon parental application to the Court of Queen’s Bench. This ended in scandal because the protections to be afforded the children’s in these sales were not implemented and many parents were manipulated and duped by speculators into the sale of their children’s lands. Children’s Grants 1877: First patent issued. 1881: Half of patents issued. 1890: Last patent issued. They did eventually run out of available land within the “postage stamp” province of Manitoba and some Supplementary Scrip was issued to satisfy children’s allotments. The last (children’s) supplementary scrip was issued in 1919.

Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research
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C.S.P., 1878, No. 10, Part III, p. 5. Debates (HC), 1878, p. 693; Mills remarks re Cauchon. C.S.P., 1879, Part II, p. 4.

D.I., No. 2, p. 733, Order-in-Council, 4 July, 1878; this Order rescinded Sections 6 and 7 of the Order-in-Council of April 25, 1871, which provided that patents should issue only to claimants 18 years or over.

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Louis Riel Institute

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