Commissioner Reports

Key Excerpts From the Report of Commissioners

Aircraft of the R.C. A. F. on slipway. (L.R) Fairchild FC-2G-CYXK, Fairchild 71-CYWX. The latter is leaving on an Indian Treaty money payment flight. LAC Item HC-3000, Item 3204721, June 27 1929, Rockcliffe Ontario.

To the Honourable, 

The Superintendent General of Indian Affairs,  Ottawa, Canada. 

The undersigned Commissioners appointed under and by virtue of a Commission dated the 30th day of May, 1929, in accordance with a Minute of a meeting of the Committee of the Privy Council approved by His Excellency, the Governor-General, on the same date, copy of which Minute is attached hereto, to negotiate with the Ojibway and other Indians in Northern Ontario, an extension of James Bay Treaty No.9, respectfully submit the following report:- 

James Bay Treaty No.9 was negotiated in 1905 with the Ojibway, Cree and other Indians inhabiting a certain tract of land comprising some ninety thousand square miles more or less in the Province of Ontario, described as bounded on the South by the height of land and the Northern limits of the territory ceded by the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850, and the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850; on the west by a part of the Eastern boundary of the territory ceded by the Northwest Angle Treaty No.3, and on the East and North by the boundaries of the said Province as then defined by law. At this time the Northerly boundary of the Province was the great Albany River running several hundred miles in a somewhat irregular though constantly Easterly direction from Lake St. Joseph on the West at the North-West Angle Treaty boundary to James Bay. The area immediately North of the said River was at that time comprised within the limits of the North-West Territories and under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. 

Under Treaty No.9 not only did the Indians within the said area South of the Albany cede, release and surrender their rights but those resident in the area lying North of the river (to a straight line AB roughly drawn from the North-East Angle of Treaty No. 3 in a North-Easterly direction to a point on James Bay approximately midway between the mouth of the Attawapiscat River on James Bay and that of Winisk River on Hudson Bay, as shown on the accompanying plan) did likewise. 

In the year 1912 the limits of the Province of Ontario were extended (see Statutes of Canada, Cap.40 – 2 Geo.V., and Statutes of Ontario, Cap.3, 2 Geo. V.) beyond the Albany River to the Province of Manitoba on the West, Hudson Bay on the North, and the Northwestern shore of James Bay on the East, the said extension comprising the area outlined in red on the accompanying map, now known as the Patricia portion of the District of Kenora. 

Under Treaty No. 9 certain reserves were set aside to the extent of a square mile for every family of five and certain of those reserves lie North of the Albany, (now within but in 1905 without the limits of the Province) viz: North part of Osnaburgh, Fort Hope, Marten Falls, and Fort Albany. 

While the Province of Ontario since 1912 has recognized the extinguishment of the rights of the Indians who were attached to the bands making cession in 1905 of the territory lying South of the line AB and North of the Albany to the extent of annually paying the Federal Government the $4.00 per capita Treaty money, no approval by Lieutenant Governor in Council, as is required, has been given to the said reserves. 

In view of the foregoing circumstances and the fact that the pushing back of the frontier is inevitable due to the spectacular interest and activity in the mining industry with its concomitant development, it was found necessary to extinguish the rights of those Indians resident North of the line AB; deemed advisable to confirm the cession made in 1905 by those Indians in the territory between line AB and the Albany River, and to deal with the above reserves within such area. 

The program having been mapped out by the Indian Department it was decided with the consent of the Indians that they should be admitted to Treaty under the same conditions as applied to those covered by Treaty No. 9, and hence steps were taken towards effecting adhesions thereto. 

Three special points were selected at which all the Indians should assemble for consideration of the question, vis; Trout Lake, marked I; the mouth of the Severn River on Hudson’s Bay, marked II, and the mouth of the Winisk River on Hudson’s Bay, marked III, on map. 

Consideration by the Commissioners was to be given to the claims of the Attawapiskat Indians for a separate reserve in addition to the one already at Albany, the boundaries of which might be modified in the direction of the Commissioners to accord with any recognized claims of the Attawapiskat Indians.

Officials and Crew Indian Treaty Trip 1929, June 27 1929, Library and Archives Canada, Box no. 3885, Item no. HC-3001

English River: Paying Annuities

Commissioner Awrey as paymaster, in the presence of Commissioner Cain, paid Treaty money to some 99 individuals over twice the number that presented themselves for admission to Treaty in 1905, as then about half of them had gone to the “line” to trade. 

The Commissioners addressed these Indians, who were formerly members of the Albany band, emphasizing the necessity of obeying all laws and regulations respecting fishing, trapping, hunting and forest protection.  Dr. Bell enrolled them to exercise care with regard to their health and in his sympathetic way gave them excellent advice in matters with regard to maintaining and improving general welfare. 

The Moth left English River on Sunday, 30th June, for Osnaburgh House, with stop over at Ogoki for half a day and at Fort Hope for a night and half day, leaving the latter point at noon on Monday, July 1st.  At each of these points Indians waiting for Treaty money were met, Onaburgh was reached at 1: 30 p.m. where Commissioner Awrey had landed the night previous at 7:30, his plane WX having proceeded thence to Sioux Lookout with Dr. Bell, and camera man Rutherford, the intention being to return early next morning, July 1st, but due to temporary indisposition of pilot Rose did not return until Tuesday morning, July 2nd.

Library and Archives Canada: June 1929: Acc. No. 1971-205-NPC Box Number 3265


July 1st

Ojibway women and children at Osnaburgh House 1929
Ojibway women and children at Osnaburgh House 1929

“At Osnaburgh some 498 Indians were paid Treaty money and in the afternoon of Dominion Day a program of sports with suitable prizes was provided. The games consisted among others of running, jumping and stone putting. The unfortunate absence of the movie picture operator lost an opportunity of securing some historic records of the first Dominion Day Celebration the Band had ever experienced. The games were all spiritedly contested and special features such as the Baby Beauty Show, the most successful hunter, and the shot putting contest, gave the Indians decided enjoyment.”

The Commissioners listened to certain alleged grievances the Indians had with regard to hunting and fishing and explained fully the laws and regulations, as well as the Indians’ rights and privileges. The Indians were strongly urged for their own material welfare to respect the game and fire laws and the response made by them through their interpreter and their own facial expression, and the handclapping showed their approval. The full meaning of Dominion Day Celebration and the significance of the Union Jack were explained to and appreciated by them. Discussion with regard to the use by the Indians of the Reserve and the necessity of having that portion lying North of the Albany River duly approved was pointed out. 

While Treaty money was being paid and medical attention was being given, the two pilots, Rose and Maxwell, in the WX plane, in preparation for the last leg in the journey to our main objective, Trout Lake, transported gas to Lansdowne House and established an emergency cache of ten gallons at Nibinamik, or Summer Beaver Lake, about 50 miles North of Lansdowne. 

On Wednesday morning, July 3rd, at 11:50, the moth left Osnaburgh for Lansdowne House, where a stop-over was considered wise. Lansdowne House was reached at 1:30 p.m. and Commissioner Cain spent the afternoon interviewing the Trading Companies’ factors and making a general survey of conditions. Certain Indians, about 50 in number, of the Trout Lake Band, were encamped here for the purpose of being duly enrolled by the Commissioners on their return from Trout Lake.

Muckuck, a First Nations man from Osnaburgh House, during Treaty 9 payments, July 1929 Archives / Collections and Fonds REFERENCE R15692-0-4-E ITEM NUMBER 3358488 ITEM TITLE c068956 DATE 1929
Osnaburgh 1929
Osnaburgh 1929
Ojibway youth at Osnaburgh House 1929
Ojibway youth at Osnaburgh House 1929

Lansdowne House to Trout Lake

July 3rd – 8th

The Moth left Lansdowne House at 6:25 p.m. Wednesday, July 3rd, and after two hours’ delightful flying with the visibility the keenest up to then met on the trip, reached Trout Lake at 8:30 p.m. The companion plane WX had not then arrived. To view from the air in an open plane such a scene as followed the Moth’s arrival over the Lake was a memorable sight. It was hailed by the Indians with a real delight and childish conviviality, – the usual restraint characteristic of the race having been carelessly thrown aside in a comic display of pent up energy, as they rushed pell mell to greet the “fire canoe” and its occupants.”

On the following morning, July 4th, in order to allay the anxieties of the Indians and their evident impatience, Commissioner Cain called together all the members of the Band, some 600 in number, under arrangements with Rev. Mr. Garrett, the resident Anglican Missionary, who very generously opened his church for the purpose and his house for members of the party. A personal glad hand shaking of each member of the band, even to the babies in arms, followed, all this having been preceded by a special message of the Chief, a very alert and intelligent leader, that his people especially desired to welcome the representatives of the King. The Commissioner, after greeting all, addressed the band as they gathered outside the church, not large enough to accommodate all, and fully explained the purpose of the visit and that their Great White King, George VI, had delegated two Commissioners, the other, Mr. Awrey, being on his way by the air route, to bring them peace, good cheer and happiness. They were congratulated on their manifest interest in the religious services, on their ability to sing and chant, their evident intelligence and their clean and well dressed appearance. 

Plane WI with Commissioner Awrey and Dr. Bell reached Trout Lake on the evening of Thursday, July 4th, the delay being due to adverse weather conditions at Osnaburgh, on account of which the load had to be reduced by leaving the mechanic and camera man at Osnaburgh, the intention being to make a second trip for them.

Government officials and Indians who signed Treaty 9. L. to r. (seated): K. Bayly, interpreter, and Commissioners Walter C. Cain and H.N. Awrey; (standing): Dr. Bell, Mrs. Garret and Rev. Garret and the Indians
Government officials and Indians who signed Treaty 9. L. to r. (seated): K. Bayly, interpreter, and Commissioners Walter C. Cain and H.N. Awrey; (standing): Dr. Bell, Mrs. Garret and Rev. Garret and the Indians Archives / Collections and Fonds ITEM NUMBER 3191673 ITEM TITLE a135701 DATE 1929

The arrival of Commissioner Cain was the signal for a repetition of the acclaim accorded the earlier plane and Commissioner Awrey was given a right royal welcome. On Friday morning July 5th, Plane WX returned to Osnaburgh to get the two members of the party left behind, Capt. Maxwell having arranged with Pilot Rose to bring back ten gallons of gas for the use of the moth. 

The weather being ideal the Commissioners lost no time in calling the entire band together to address them on the object of the official visit. The services of one William Cromarty, a half-breed interpreter, were enlisted but his inability to raise his voice much above a whisper necessitated the words being relayed through the Chief. After fully understanding the explanations of the Commissioners they were requested to remain in conference, appoint leading representatives of the band, six in number, in addition to the Chief, to meet the Commissioners at the leaders’ convenience and enter into full discussion of the terms and conditions of the Treaty. 

The Commissioners withdrew and after dinner word came from the leaders that they were prepared to meet the Commissioners for consideration of the Treaty proposals and that they had full authority to act for the band, it having been clearly pointed out to the assembled Indians in the morning that what was agreed to by their leaders or representatives would be binding upon the whole band. 

The Commissioners and six leaders, Samson Beardy (Chief), George Winnapetonge, Jeremiah Sainnawap, Isaac Barkman, Jack McKay and Jacob Frog, met in a new unoccupied one-room building, “The Historical Hall”, roughly constructed in the form of a 16 ft square, out of pit sawed spruce logs, over which flew a new Union Jack from a substantial pole hurriedly erected by the interested Indians.  

Every important point in the Treaty proposals from the area involved, which was indicated to the Indians on a roll map hanging upon the North wall of the rude structure was carefully considered to the minutest detail. In this they evinced the keenest interest, particularly in respect of the detailed obligations of the Crown. The ground was thoroughly covered, the Commissioners entering into explanations with a particularity of detail, realising that in the past certain claims have been made that the Indians did not fully understand the meaning of their act. 

Cognisant of their stolid character in certain circumstances and extremely desirous that any suspicions or apprehensions should be removed, the Commissioners not only invited and received many questions but prompted the Indians in seeking data on points such as fishing, hunting, trapping, mining, etc., that might hereafter arrive. The questions put to the Commissioners and the [illeg] interest manifested by these alert leaders, who as time wore on became quite talkative, justify the opinion that for general intelligence they are much more advanced than the members of bands closer to the line and the Commissioners feel from the observations noted and the comparisons made that the absence of direct and regular contact with the white man has not adversely affected this Northern Band, but on the contrary has obviously kept them free from many of the evil influences that such contact has upon the red man.

Chief Samson Beardy standing and Commissionners Cain and Awrey seated at the table during the negociations of Treaty 9 payments. From left to right, front row: Simeon and Jeremiah McKay, Isaac Barkman. At the left of Chief Samson, Johnny Anderson
Chief Samson Beardy standing and Commissioners Cain and Awrey seated at the table during the negotiations of Treaty 9 payments. From left to right, front row: Simeon and Jeremiah McKay, Isaac Barkman. At the left of Chief Samson, Johnny Anderson Archives / Collections and Fonds ITEM NUMBER 3192265 ITEM TITLE a094969 DATE 1929

…The Commissioners deem it worthy of note that of the 627 enrolled in Trout Lake Band 43 are widows of whom some 16 are childless, the other 27 having 95 children. In other words 22% of the total members of those enrolled are widows and their dependents,- a number of husbands having died last winter as the result of an apparent flu epidemic

… with such a proportion of dependents it is reasonable to conclude that in the not far distant future appeals for relief will be made and efforts towards meeting these will accentuate the problem of the Department of Indian Affairs in providing emergency or general relief essential in such a far flung portion of the Province …”

In accordance with the provisions of the Treaty, the Chief was presented with a large Union Jack, the symbol of authority and each councilor with the Chief had pinned upon his person his official badge, in accordance with the provision of the Treaty. 

…“At the conclusion of enrollment and payment the Indians expected the usual feast that accompanies such Treaty negotiations, but owing to the lack of provisions at the post the looked-for formalities were abandoned. The Commissioners, however, assured the band that next year if there be ample supplies in store the deferred feast would be given. Partly in substitution of such feast the Commissioners arranged rather an extended program of sports and the carrying out of these was indeed a new experience for the Indians. All the band evinced the greatest interest as they squatted about upon the somewhat spacious though rather rough cleared area on the shore of the lake. The contestants enthusiastically entered into the spirit of the games and some of the younger elements, those athletically inclined, gabe promise of sturdy development. As a matter of official and historic record the program of the event appears below, with the prizes designated.

Baby Show1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize - cup each
Best Looking GirlBall
Best Looking BoyBall
Largest FamilyLarge Size Frying Pan
Best HunterTrap
Oldest IndianTobacco
Oldest SquawShawl
Best Pair TwinsLarge Balls
Boys’ Race (50 yards) under 12Mouth Organ
Girls’ Race (50 yards) under 12String of Beads
Boys’ Race (50 yards) under 16Pair of Braces
Girls’ Race (50 yards) under 16Handkerchief
Shot Putting, - MenPipe
Men’s Race (75 yards)1st and 2nd, Hat each
Men’s Broad JumpWatch
Sack Race1st and 2nd, Jack Knives
Canoe Race1st and 2nd, Watches
Three proud mothers with their prize winning babies. Picture taken at Trout Lake during Treaty 9 payments on July 1929
Three proud mothers with their prize winning babies. Picture taken at Trout Lake during Treaty 9 payments on July 1929 Archives / Collections and Fonds ITEM NUMBER 3193380 ITEM TITLEc068995 DATE 1929

“Tuesday, July 9th, 1929. The Commissioners having fully completed their work by noon were still anxiously waiting for plane WX which had failed to return from Osnaburgh … In the afternoon, however, a plane hove in sight which turned out to be a new machine, Fairchild XB, piloted by Flight Lieutenant Higgins, with Sergeant Green as mechanic, and brought the sad news that the WX had crashed at Osnaburgh, resulting in the loss of one life, the cook at the Hudson Bay factors’ post there, Sandy Morrison, and a serious injury to Pilot Ross, and minor injuries to passenger Hooker, the Hudson Bay factor at Osnaburgh.”

Government officials and Indians who signed Treaty 9. L. to R seated K Bayly interpreter, and Commissioners Walter Cain and H. N. Awrey, (standing) Dr. Bell Mrs. Garret, and Rev. Garret and the Indians, LAC ACC NO. 1971-205 NPC Box. 3265, July 5 1929

…  “The Moth practically followed the same course on its outward journey from Trout Lake, as on its inward, for some distance, but was bucked a fairly heavy cross wind all the time, and found its limited gas supply subject to heavier consumption than under normal conditions. It was therefore decided to refuel at Nibinamik Lake, rather than flirt with uncertainties, but because of the similarity of the lakes the shore lines and the islands it was difficult to pick up the cache land marked on 10 days before, and a slight turn to the right rather than the left resulted in overlooking the cache and a further westward survey over a string of lakes failed to disclose its real location. Pilot Maxwell, understanding that prospectors were actively carrying on investigations in the chain of lakes and trusting to the possibility of securing gas from their operating company, proceeded Westward and after landing at a small lake to await the dropping of the unfavourable wind and to investigate an old encampment which proved an abandoned Indian lodge, proceeded farther westward to select a propitious landing shore, and in due time observing a very inviting sand beach on a lake of reasonable size, landing with but sufficient gas to carry on taxiing on the lake.  This lake was not shewn upon our map but lies at the Western end of the chain of lakes of which Wunnummin, emptying into the Winisk River, is the most important indicated on the map.

(Treaty 9) A flashlight photo taken at Remi. Commissioners Awrey, Cain, Capt. Maxwell, Pilot Rose and Dr. Bell
(Treaty 9) A flashlight photo taken at Remi. Commissioners Awrey, Cain, Capt. Maxwell, Pilot Rose and Dr. Bell Archives / Collections and Fonds ITEM NUMBER 3367609 ITEM TITLE a094974-v8 DATE 1929

“Commissioner Cain and Pilot Maxwell were thus forced to camp in the wilds on the sand beach in the hope that a Provincial air Service plane would locate the position of the Moth within a day or two… That evening after the camp fire had been extinguished and preparations were being made for open air beds, several Indians ploughed through the deep waters and drew up their canoes alongside the Moth which had attracted their attention some miles distant. Little information could be secured from them except that they were Crees and had an encampment on the opposite side of the lake. After an unsatisfactory attempts on their part to explain their coming they hopped into their canoes promising to return the following day. About midday on Thursday, July 11th, the Indians again called, this time six only in number including two new faces, and gradually the occurrence of the night before was being repeated when much to the amazement of Commissioner Cain their leader, the Chief, very unceremoniously extracted from his pocket a letter written by Dr. D.C. Scott, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, in January, 1929, directing him as Chief of the Wendigo Indians to appear at Trout Lake for Treaty negotiations. These then were representatives of the very Indians whose absence from Trout Lake gave the Commissioners much concern and caused considerable discussion. 

“The unexpected meeting of this band was a striking co-incidence when related to the fortuitous landing of the Moth plane.”

Unexpected Meeting with Round Lake Indians

These Indians of the Wendigo and Round Lake regions, under a false impression that the Commissioners were to treat with them separately, had established an encampment on the opposite side of the very lake whose hospitable sand shore had welcomed the Moth.  It is believed they numbered around 150-175 since by actual count, as was afterwards learned, there were 43 canoes banked.  In full expectation of meeting the Commissioners they had posted the lanes for the safe landing of the planes. 


Thursday, July 11th

“Towards evening of this day a Cabin plane of the Western Airways on transporting prospectors to a nearby lake observed the Moth and landed. Arrangements were made to bring a supply of gas the following morning to enable the Moth to proceed to Lansdowne and the remaining points of call on James Bay. That night, however, a violent illness seized Commissioner Cain that forced him to take plane next morning, July 12th, to Sioux Lookout Hospital, reached on the same evening after a stop for refueling at Cat Lake. He was unable to continue the rest of the journey but as the Treaty had been signed at the only point provided in the program and but 50 Trout Lake Indians were to be enrolled the latter requested Commissioner Awrey to list and pay them, which was duly done.  Certain other questions respecting Reserves at Albany and Attawapiskat, that were considered by Commissioner Awrey, were deferred until next year.  …”

Walter Cain appointed Treaty commissioner 1929
Walter Cain appointed Treaty commissioner 1929

“The Indians at different posts entertained fears lest their fishing and hunting grounds would be encroached upon by the granting of commercial fishing licenses and the possible extension of trapping rights to whites. While showing gratitude for the generous treatment accorded them by the Ontario Government in limiting certain privileges to resident Indians they appealed to the Commissions for some assurance that there would be no departure from that policy and that their future means of existence would not be narrowed.”

Strong Recommendation to Leave the Area for the Exclusive use of the Indians

The Commissioners in the circumstances respectfully though strongly recommend that it be suggested to the Ontario Government that before permitting commercial fishing licenses, or granting extensions to whites, with regard to hunting and trapping in this remote region, the matter be carefully studied and that as far as it is within the public interests the area be specifically left for the exclusive use of the Indians, the doing of which will, the Commissioners believe, in no way interfere with or be antagonistic to the general fishing or hunting industry..


At Remi Lake 1929
At Remi Lake 1929