The Manitoba Settlements at St. Daniel and the Boyne, 1871-1901

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Date: Spring 2019
From: Manitoba History(Issue 89)
Publisher: Manitoba Historical Society
Document Type: Report
Length: 9,299 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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In 1871, Metis inhabitants of Manitoba and white settlers, mostly from Ontario, both claimed the same lands along the Riviere aux Ilets-de-Bois (now the Boyne River) in south-central Manitoba. For much of that summer it seemed as though the conflicting claims might erupt into an armed confrontation, but, under pressure from Lieutenant-Governor Archibald, the Metis temporarily abandoned their claim, leaving the incoming settlers in possession of what came to be known as the Boyne Settlement. (1) The confrontations were an important event in the history of Manitoba but they were only one episode in the settlement of the area around present-day Carman. Prior to the confrontations, the area had been used seasonally by the Red River Metis who lived by hunting, trading, and subsistence agriculture. In the three decades after the confrontations, immigrants, primarily English-speaking Protestants from Ontario, developed the area along the river as a commercially-oriented farming community. On the northern edge of the Boyne Settlement, St. Daniel developed as a French-speaking, Roman Catholic, Metis community. The two settlements, differing in religion, language, and ethnicity, were similar in that both Metis and white settlers acquired Crown lands under the terms of the Dominion Lands Act and both, with varying degrees of success, developed as farming communities.

The stories of St. Daniel and the Boyne Settlement are illustrative of the broader history of Manitoba in the 1870s and 1880s when the Metis population struggled to adapt to a new political, social, and economic regime in which they were often a persecuted minority. For me, the local story has an added interest as my great-grandparents were among the Ontario settlers of the 1870s and 1880s. I grew up on a farm adjacent to the site of the original St. Daniel church and stories about the early Metis settlers, particularly John F. Grant, were a part of my father's fund of local lore. This paper will build on the interest kindled by his stories. It is based primarily on census records from 1881 to 1901 with additional information from land records, parish registers, Metis scrip records, and Manitoba vital statistics. As well, three published histories of Carman and of Dufferin municipality and several short accounts of the St. Daniel settlement include first-hand accounts of the early days of the communities and a fund of information on the origins and experiences of the families who built the settlements. (2)

A word on place names may be useful. Prior to 1871 the Metis made seasonal use of the land along the Riviere aux Ilets-de-Bois (hereafter RIB), now the Boyne River. After this land was occupied by white settlers from Ontario in 1871, the Metis took up land about five miles north-west of the present town of Carman and built a chapel, which was first known as the Riviere aux Ilets-de-Bois mission and subsequently as St. Daniel. The core of their settlement was in Township 7, Ranges 5 and 6, which I will refer to as 7-5 and 7-6. The white settlers renamed the RIB...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A586811613