Commissioner Reports

Key Excerpts From the Report of Commissioners


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, to negotiate with the Ojibway and other Indians in Northern Ontario on extension of James Bay Treaty No. 9, respectfully submit this, their second and final report:-

The Commissioners made a report dated August 30th, 1929, upon the question of the extinguishment of the Indian title on the last remaining area unceded in the Province of Ontario, if not in the whole of Canada, and a reference to such report, which may be found on pages 20 to 27, in the Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the year 1929, discloses the situation as regards to the area involved, defines  the purpose of the negotiations with the Indians and details the work accomplished.

The area in question, generally speaking, comprises all that portion of the Province of Ontario lying North of the Albany river and extending to Manitoba on the West and the Hudson Bay and James Bay on the North and East, comprising approximately 128,000 square miles, and containing a number of important Indian trading posts or encampments where the Indians barter their furs, enjoy for a few weeks each season a limited communal life and receive their Treaty payments.

The great distances these posts are from white civilization and from each other, without ready means of communication, enhance the difficulty of reaching the resident Indians regularly and conveniently by any means except that of aircraft. To understand the problem of keeping in direct contact with them, studying their needs and co-operating with them in an attempt to protect them by maintaining their primitive pursuits for which by nature they are so successfully attuned, let it be said that the most Northerly port of call this year, Fort Severn on the Hudson Bay, at the North East corner of the Province of Ontario is over 1000 miles North of Point Pelee on Lake Erie, the most southerly point of the Province.

It is a long call from the primitive paddle to the palpitating plane but the latter device has helped to solve the problem by annihilating distance. Here the flying machine is accomplishing in days now what required months or even years heretofore.

Last year, due to the magnitude of the area to be covered, and the inability to secure sufficient gasoline to supply the needs of the aircraft at the outlying post on the Hudson Bay, Trout Lake and Lansdowne House, were the only points of which Adhesion to the Treaty was signed, the two other posts provided for in the program, Fort Severn and Winisk on Hudson Bay, having been placed on the itinerary for the year of 1930. 


As the annual payments under Treaty No. 9 had to be made to cover points at which the Commissioners were required to call, the aircraft served the double purpose of conveying the Commissioners and the Treaty Paymaster, the latter, H.N. Awrey, serving in the dual capacity of Paymaster and Commissioner, and with him Commissioner Cain collaborated in all payments. Under this arrangement an economy of time was effected and a joint Provincial and Federal check accomplished.

Companion Flight

Last year the Dominion Government provided one plane and the Provincial Government the other, but this year Ontario, due to the pressing demands made upon its flying fleet owing to the acute fire hazard, was unable to furnish one. Consequently the Royal Canadian Air Force, through the Department of National Defense, supplied two cabin planes, Fairchilds 71 with wasp engines, Nos.113 and 114.

 The instructions required each machine to keep in sight of its companion since much of the territory to be covered was far removed from contact with the older sections and was being air blazed and investigated for the benefit of future flying.

 The officer in charge of the planes was Flight Lieutenant Dave A. Harding, with an important flying record of thirteen years to his credit, of which two and a half years was spent overseas for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross. Harding piloted plane 113 and Flying Officer Kingsley Rose, of Old Country experience, plane 114. Corporal Jerry McManus was the mechanic for the former and Rénè Gauthier, A.C.2., for the latter.

The itinerary provided for a hop-off from Ottawa to Remi Lake on July 2nd, and a return to Remi on or about August 4th. This itinerary, however, made no provision for inclement weather, nor for a necessary and important detour or side trip to Sandy Lake Narrows, near the Manitoba border, subsequently undertaken and fully referred to later on in this 


The Provincial Government, through the Honourable W. Finlason, Minister of Lands and Forests, very kindly intimated to the Commissioners, prior to their leaving, that should any emergency occur the entire resources of the Ontario Flying Force were at their disposal – a considerate and practical suggestion, prompted by the spirit of sympathy traditional with the Ontario Government in its dealings with the Indians and fully appreciated by the Commissioners.


Take Off Indian Treaty Party: 1931 LAC Box 3885, Item HC-4302

Journal Record of Trip

The two planes, with Commissioner Cain in No. 113 and Commissioner Awrey in No. 114, started from Rockcliffe Airport on the Ottawa river at 12:20 p.m. on July 2nd, 1930, in favourable weather, in the presence of Group Captain G.L. Gordon, Squadron Leader Major Godfrey, and Wing Commander G.O. Johnson, Executive Officers of the R.C.A.F., and a number of relatives and friends of the Treaty party, including representatives of the Department of Indian Affairs. …


About ten O’clock next morning, July 3rd, the weather cleared and the planes took off of for Remi Lake where a landing was made at 1: 30 p.m.  At this point, the logical and only established air base in Northern Ontario for hopping – off purposes in connection with flights to James Bay and intermediate posts and locations up the Albany River, the Ontario Provincial Air Force have a comfortable and commodious lodge, an efficient set of officials and an excellent cuisine, financed and operated by the staff itself.


English River

July 5th

The acquaintance made by the Commissioners last year with the genial and hospitable representatives of the trading companies and with the energetic Anglican Clergyman, were renewed. Friday and Saturday, July 4th and 5th, were spent in paying Treaty money and considering certain submissions of interest to the Indians. Addresses were given by the Commissioners and the two pilots, who recitals of their oversea experiences in the Great War, with courageous Canadian volunteer Indians, were eagerly received. Over one hundred gathered, there being present a number from the Fort Albany band.

Saturday, July 5th, was impossible flying weather, the order of the day being heavy rains, low-hanging, black clouds, interspersed with sunny spots which were seized by the Treaty party, after formal work was completed, to instruct and entertain the Indians in artful pastime games and amusing tricks. Special mention in this regard should be made of mechanic Gauthier whose wizard tricks, not only at this but at other posts visited, which included the freeing himself from knotted rope entanglements, and modern handcuff bracelets, gave the Indians a real thrill and solid enjoyment and netted Gauthier the sobriquet of “Wendigo”.

Chief John Faries and four sons, English River 1930
Chief John Faries and four sons, English River 1930


July 6th

….  On Monday, July 7th, the Commissioners arose at 7 o’clock and immediately after breakfast made payments to one-hundred and forty-six Indians. The Paymaster made a generous distribution of clothing and certain useful articles to old widows and dependent old men, Dr. Mitchell the while treating those requiring medical attention and dispensing drugs. The work was rushed to completion at 3:30 p.m., and there being a welcomed rift in the cloudy sky the party took for Fort Hope, and reached there at 4:45 p.m

Fort Hope

July 7th

… After the evening meal baseball and horseshoe pitching were temporarily indulged in to the delight and satisfaction of the Indians present.”

… During payments several pagan members of this band, appeared and it did not require a very discriminating eye to recognize this type. Less careful in their dress, cleanliness and manners than the Christian Indians they at once appear apart; even in their movements, primitive and unchristian customs are evident. One couple, claiming marriage according to pagan rites, by the great disparity in their ages, he being but 40 years and she over 80 years old, added a zest, if not a sentiment, to the occasion.”

[Treaty 9] Feast at Fort Hope, [Ont.]
[Treaty 9] Feast at Fort Hope, [Ont.]

Fort Hope

July 7th

After the evening meal baseball and horseshoe pitching were temporarily indulged in to the delight and satisfaction of the Indians present.” Conferences with the trading companies at night touching on their relationship with the Indians were held.

 Early on the following morning, Tuesday, July 8th, the Commissioners crossed the river to the clean and well prepared Council House on the reserve, where all day until 6 p.m. was devoted to paying Treaty money. “…

Treaty payments were completed by noon Wednesday, July 9th, and in the afternoon over two hundred and fifty Indians arrived on the South side of the river and patiently listened to address by Commissioners Cain and Awrey, the former emphasizing the necessity of complying with the fire protection and game laws, and the latter counselling the Indians on the need of thrift and additional display of energy by reason of the limited success in the chase the past year.

Natives of Fort Hope at Landsdowne House Councillors Mishell and Moonia may be seen at right July 13,1930
Natives of Fort Hope at Landsdowne House Councillors Mishell and Moonia may be seen at right July 13,1930

Lansdowne House

July 10th

Leaving Fort Hope on Thursday, July 10th, at 1:50 p.m. the planes under fair weather proceeded to Lansdowne House, about 60 miles due North. This point is situated on Attawapiscat Lake, the headwaters of the great river bearing the same name that extends Northerly and Easterly over three hundred miles to James Bay. It was at this point last year where fifty members of the Trout Lake band were enrolled and admitted to Treaty, a number of them being present again this year. Commissioner Cain, who through illness last year was not present at the enrollment, desired to check them up and personally vouch for them.

A group of Fort Hope Indians at Lansdowne House 1930 LAC Accession No. 1975-205 Box 3265

Dr. Day administered to the Indians on Friday, July 11th, while the Commissioners paid annuities and considered grievances. In the evening a general gathering took place, the Commissioners and the Doctor giving the usual admonitions. The indians cast aside that reserve, more or less a characteristic trait, and freely asked questions pertaining to their welfare and evinced keen interest in the proceedings. After the meeting a short program of sports was run off for the benefit of the Indians, a number of whom, as previously remarked, had been admitted into Treaty last year and were expecting some novel entertainment.

“The following program of events was merrily disposed of:-

Girls’ Race, - 14yrs. and under, - 50 yds(1) Brooch,
all others - candies
Boys’ Race, - 14yrs. and under, - 50 yds(1) Soap & comb,
all others - candies
Girls’ Race, - 15yrs. and under, - 75 yds(1) Compact,
(2) Comb
Boys’ Race, - 15yrs. and under, - 100 yds(1) Mouth Organ,
(2) Soap & comb
Sack Race, - Men and Boys, - 50 yds(1) Belt,
(2) Comb
Three-legged Race, - Boys, - 50 yds(1) Tie,
(2) Cup
Relay Race, - Boys, - 100 yds(1) Chocolates,
(2) Chocolates
Tandem Race, - Boys, - 100 yds(1) Comb,
(2) Cigarettes
Broad Jump, - Men(1) Cigarettes,
(2) Chocolates,
Oldest Indian (aged 85)Large Pipe
Oldest Squaw (aged 80)Large Colored Handkerchief

All the Prizes were donated by members of the party and purchased at the stores of the two trading companies.

Natives of Fort Hope at Landsdowne House Councillors Mishell and Moonia may be seen at right July 13,1930
Natives of Fort Hope at Landsdowne House Councillors Mishell and Moonia may be seen at right July 13,1930

Osnaburgh House

July 13th

 On Sunday morning, July 13th, at the first favourable moment the planes started for Osnaburgh on Lake Joseph and arrived at 12:40 p.m. This post was the scene last year of the fatal accident to Treaty Plane WX, which crashed and sank in the lake carrying to his death an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, one Sandy Morrison, upon whose grave in the little Indian burying ground upon the hill, beside the forlorn and neglected looking church, the Commissioners upon arrival placed a wreath of native wild flowers as a silent tribute to Sandy’s memory, and a submission to Death’s inescapable call.

Pursuant to the practices of the white man in dealing with Indians under Treaty No. 9, the Commissioners declined, though requested by some, to pay annuities on Sunday, but met the Indian worshippers on their reserve on the South side of the river and with Dr. Day, delivered addresses applicable to Sunday Service. 

Sioux Lookout

July 15th 

 At noon the planes with Commissioner Cain left for Sioux Lookout, landing at the Provincial Air base within one and a half hours. Needed adjustments were made to the planes and certain replacement parts, sent from Ottawa at radio request of Officer Harding while at Fort Hope, were obtained. The night was spent in Sioux Lookout where Commissioner Cain purchased essential provisions to tide the party over its prospective and uncertain trips to Nikip and Sandy Lakes in the interior and Western portions of the Patricia District.

The next two points of call, Wendigo river, where it empties into Nikip Lake, and Sandy Lake Narrows, had given the Commissioners some concern. Nikip Lake was the fortuitous meeting place last year of the representatives of an Indian band with Commissioner Cain, whose forced landing due to diminished gas supply attracted the Indians encamped on the opposite side of the lake, about eight miles distant. The details of such meeting are recorded in the Commissioners’ Report of last year.

These non-treaty Indians, supposed members of the Trout Lake band, had failed to appear for enrollment at Trout Lake in 1929, and while Commissioner Cain had advised them to report this year at Trout Lake it was subsequently deemed advisable for their tranquility of mind and future happiness to aggregate them into a separate and distinct band, meet them at a given spot, their own encampment, duly admit them to Treaty and allocate them a reserve at the site tentatively selected last year by the Commissioners, or at such other one satisfactory to them, and to this end the Commissioners had to direct themselves.

Added also to the agenda for 1930 was the question of providing a reserve for the Deer Lake Indians who are subject to Treaty No. 5 though resident at Sandy Lake, North East of Wendigo river and near the Manitoba Boundary.

As the exact locations of these two Indian encampments were unknown to the pilots, and the supply of gas was a determining factor, it was decided to go to Wendigo via Kapikik, the most Northerly air and radio base in Ontario, ideally appointed from both a practical and aesthetic point of view, and there refuel and notify Ottawa of intentions as the following three weeks would take the party out of further touch with the outside world.

Windigo River and Nikip

July 17th

The Hudson’s Bay Company, through its outpost factor of Cedar Lake, John Wesley, prepared an office in the form of a new tent, 10’ x 8’, for the Commissioners, where the Adhesion was signed and the Indians enrolled. Two additional tents met the dormitory requirements, while an improvised table of rough logs hewn of Spruce, supplemented by a rickety bench for comfort rather than practical purposes, satisfied refectory needs. That night all the Indians, 176 in number, headed by their Chief, were summoned and addressed by the Commissioners, who fully explained the purpose of their coming and sought the reason for the non-appearance of these Indians at Trout Lake last year.. Desired band independence and traditional respect for the counsel of their former chief, now deceased, who urged them not to go that distance until Treaty contract was made but rely on the Government’s sympathy for and interest in them, accounted for their absence. 

The Caribou Lake Indians as seen by the Commissioners on their arrival by plane LAC Accession No. 1971-205 Box 3265
Caribou Lake Indian boys with their bows and arrows with which they can shoot very accurately. LAC Accession No. 1971-205 Box 3265

As these Indians with their squaws and papooses squatted around they presented a picture, in comparison with other bands, of unkempt, ill-clothed, rather penurious and distressed people. Their appearance indicated limited success in the hunt during the past year and their enrollment as wards of the Government should conduce to their improvement. Notwithstanding their seemingly underprivileged conditions their health was above the average, in which connection it is worthy of note that of all those appearing before Dr. O’Gorman for treatment not one was found with a tooth cavity, thanks presumably to the lack of sugar and sweet meats.

In some respects these Indians are located at a point which is the most inaccessible of any Indian post in the Province. To bring in supplies from the line involves a return trip by canoe of twenty to twenty-five days – the route being via Bucke on the Transcontinental and Osnaburgh on Lake Joseph. A free trader from Osnaburgh occupied twenty-one days, making fifty-one portages, in coming to the post at Treaty time to dispose of a few hundred dollars worth of goods. 

The Commissioners adopted the same method taken last year at Trout Lake and had the band select from their number certain leaders. Six met the Commissioners in the “Administration Hall” on Thursday night, July 17th, and for several hours discussed the terms and conditions of Treaty No. 9, to which they desired admittance.

The Commissioners, after a thorough explanation of the Treaty was given, urged the leaders to present the case to the entire band and not to agree to a single proposition unless it was clearly understood, since it was the desire of the King’s Representatives to report understanding and unanimity amongst the Indians. John Wesley, whom they knew well and in whom they had confidence, acted as interpreter and being a graduate of the Winnipeg Indian school was quite competent.

Next morning, Friday, July 18th, the leaders again met the Commissioners and submitted many questions which were fully answered, after which they intimated readiness to sign the Adhesion. The Indians manifested the keenest interest in the mounted map used by the Commissioners, and which was hung upon the flag  pole of the “office”.

The Commissioners first signed, followed by the leaders, – Apin Kakepeness, Jonas Wasakimik, Samuel Sawanis, John Quequish, Patrick Kakekayash, and Senis Sakchekapow – each of whom used the Indian Syllabics. The signing was witnessed by Dr. O’Gorman and John Wesley and a snap shot of the occurrence showing the signing with the Chief by the side, forms part of this report.

Councilor Samuel Sawanis, Chief Apin Ka Ke Pe-Ness and Councilor Senia Sak-Che Ka-pow of the Caribou Lake Band. LAC Accession No. 1971-205 Box 3265

The entire band, numbering 176, were then enrolled, all Indians personally appearing with their wives and families. The names and ages of all were recorded and payments of gratuity and annuity made. No less than seventeen widows were enrolled, ten per cent of the whole band. While certain gewgaw articles, such as cheap rings, to satisfy the curiosity and primitive fastidiousness of the squaw, comprised part of their purchases of the Indian from the traders, the large percentage covered the essential one of food and clothing.

Treaty Signing at Windigo, 1930 LAC Acc 1975-201NPC Box 3265

So far removed from the line are these Indians that many of them have seen but few white men. No itinerant missionary visits this encampment, although there is a simple building of rough logs, with roof partly covered with crumpled tar paper, used for Christian Service, two lay Indian Gospel readers taking charge. The splendid framework of a large church had been construct out of hand cut logs but the reserve for the band having been chosen elsewhere the building may not now be completed. The Anglican Missionary, Rev. Mr. Garrett of Trout Lake, visits Weagamow Lake, a day’s journey from Wendigo, annually and some of the Indians attend Service there.  

To these simple Christian people, solely dependent upon the aboriginal vocation, the chase, for their existence, the seaplane, the great “flying bird”, was a source of interest. Even after feeling and examining it and observing it come through the air, they were incredulous, concluding as it lay there – inanimate, like unto the bird that so often falls a victim to their sin, that it could never take on life again.

The Church at Windigo where the Indians worship. LAC Accession No. 1971-205 Box 3265

According to custom the Indians were given a feast, sufficient supplied such as flour, tea, lard, etc. The men and boys, contrary to the expectations of the white men, made the bannocks for the feast, which consisted of these palatable cakes with fat pork juice and lard, tea and candies, all being spread before the squatting band upon the green sward, several of their leaders acting as hosts and standing with bowed heads in the offering of grace before partaking of the viands set for them.”

Elections were held and resulted in Apin Kakepeness being chosen Chief and Samuel Sawanis and Senie Sekechekopew, Councillors. The elected Chief was the Indian who met Commissioner Cain last year, and proved such an enigma. Possessed of an attentive frame and melancholy face he viewed everything, and surrounded himself with a veil of apparent mystery, not penetrated even by the enthusiasm of his followers, all of whom, including the children, congratulated him by shaking his hand.

The new Council were presented with the Union Jack and medals, the significance of these having been explained by the Commissioners.

Caribou Lake Indians who were taken into Treaty in 1930 at the camping grounds on the Windigo River. LAC Acc 1975-201 NPC Box 3265

Realizing the importance of a reserve they had carefully discussed the subject amongst themselves prior to the Commissioners arrival. Based upon their aggregate membership they are entitled to 35 ¼ square miles, which, with the approval of the Commissioners, they selected on the South shore of Caribou Lake, slightly to the left or West end, so that ample frontage of a somewhat extended bay will be included, the dimensions to estimate 8 miles in length by 4.4 miles in width.

The Commissioners and the Doctor concluded their work on Friday evening and patiently awaited the return of the planes which, however, did not appear on the horizon until Saturday, July 19th, 8:10 p.m. On arrival the pilots reported a safe landing at Kapikik on Thursday evening, impossible flying weather on Friday, a take-off on Saturday for Cat Lake for refueling purposes, thence North East to Trout Lake to investigate gas cache. Here to their amazement, and to the possible frustrating of plans, they found over eighty percent of the R.C.A.F gas, that had at extreme cost been freighted from Hudson Bay up the Severn river 250 miles, a total loss through leakage, due to faulty packing. This criminal negligence involving such a loss, and placing pilots and passengers in grave situations, forced the relaying of gas from Cat Lake, a distance of 175 miles, and it was on the trip down from Trout Lake on Saturday they called at Wendigo with certain luggage and camera supplies of the Commissioners, having left the mechanics at Trout Lake to reduce the load. Darkness setting in earlier than usual at Wendigo, the hop-off for Cat Lake was deferred until Sunday morning at 6 o’clock. The planes returned at 5:15 p.m. the same day, but because of the unpropitious weather, and the indefinite description of the next stopping point on elongated Sandy Lake, the trip there was left for Monday.

A band of Indians residing in the vicinity of Deer Lake within the territory included in Treaty No. 5, signed Adhesion to said Treaty on the 9th June, 1910, and under its conditions were assured a reserve in the proportion of 32 acres per capita. At this time the territory formed no part of the Province of Ontario, it being then part of the North West Territories. A final selection of the reserve had not been made and although the band in 1910 resided in the vicinity of Deer Lake the members have since changed their abode and are now in larger numbers resident about Sandy Lake, situate within territory covered by the Commission under which the undersigned Commissioners are functioning.

In 1910 when this band was admitted they numbered 95, augmented the year following by 78 Indians transferred from the Indian Lake band resident in Manitoba. These numbers have now increased to 332 and as the Island Lake Indians have been allotted their reserve, and have had it duly surveyed on a basis of excluding those transferred to the Deer Lake band, the latter are now entitled to a grant.

Under the Ontario Boundaries Extension Act, R.S.O. 1912, Chap. 40, provision is made whereby Ontario will recognize the rights of the Indian inhabitants in the territory added to and now included in the Province by the said Act. These Deer Lake Indians resident in such added territory desired their reserve.

In pursuance, therefore, of an appointment made by the Commissioners to meet representatives of this band at an indefinitely described point towards the West end of Sandy Lake, the plane took off from Wendigo at 7 a.m. on Monday, July 21st, John Wesley, as interpreter, accompanying the party.

Sandy Lake

July 21st

About 75, headed by their striking looking Chief Fiddler, arrayed in his official uniform with his large medal bearing the impression of the late King Edward VII, his prided insignia, presented their claims. The Chief predicated his submission by asserting his intention to speak the truth and humbly petition the King, through the Commissioners, to grant his people their belated reserve at the very site where the white men then stood with the red men.

With rousing cheers from the Indians the Commissioners said “Adieu”, hopped into the planes and with the advantage of a tail wind returned to Wendigo in forty minutes.

John Wesley left for Cedar Lake by canoe and the planes loading up with part of the gas relayed from Cat Lake started for Trout Lake and arrived at 3:30 p.m.

Trout Lake

July 22nd 

Tuesday and Wednesday, July 22nd and 23rd, were devoted to paying annuities, holding conferences, with the Chief and Councillors and enrolling a few delinquents from last year. The total number paid was 639. Twenty births and sixteen deaths occurred during the year. The health of the band was found by Dr. O’Gorman to be very good and apart from the tubercular tendencies, more or less characteristic of the race, no pronounced organic troubles were found. The Commissioners wish to emphasize the impression gained last year on admitting these Indians to Treaty, that is, they evince in the main an intelligence and radiate an exultant joy of life that if existent in any other band met on the trip is observed passive stoicism and excusable indifference. The Indians challenged the whites to a football game, itching to revenge the defeat they suffered last year, but the tiring rains intervened and shattered their hopes.”

A single occurrence, officially witnessed by the Commissioners took place in the little humble Anglican Church when five Indian couples at the same ceremony entered the matrimonial bonds, and Amelia, Maggie, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Soonia, each in her turn respectively accepted for better or for worse her Indian brave and very submissively gave proof that these Christian living dwellers of the forest do not believe in the extinction of their hardy race. The absorbing curiosity of the white man in wondering to what palatial abode the groom would transport his bride, or what form the honeymoon would take, remained unsatisfied as simultaneously with the conclusion of the event, although the principles did modestly pose for the Commissioners’ camera, the fleet footed groomsmen hurriedly steered a compass course for the “tall timber”, while the bashful though joyous brides sought refuge from their new fledged fondlings by scampering off to their own spruce carpeted teepees that had so well nurtured them, there to again prepare the smoked fish evening meal.

Indian couples married in the Anglican Church by Rev. Leslie Garrett. Taken during Treaty 9 payments
Indian couples married in the Anglican Church by Rev. Leslie Garrett. Taken during Treaty 9 payments

A feast postponed last year due to the lack of supplies, was provided by the Commissioners but the distressing rainy weather centred the preparations in the Chief’s scantily furnished log dwelling, which served as the “historical hall” last year, and thus the pristine glory and native glamour of outdoor open campfire and teepee bakings were absent, although the enjoyment in partaking of the unusual delicacies was undiminished.

The Indians exercised certain concern regarding the survey of their reserves, three in number, selected last year, the four descending now to the Lake Caribou band, who selected it at Caribou Lake rather than at Round Lake where it had been recommended by the Trout Lake Council and tentatively accepted by the Commissioners. Last year the non-appearance of the Wendigo and Round Lake Indians (now Lake Caribou Indians) resulted in an arrangement by which their reserve was to be the difference between the aggregate area to which the whole band was entitled and the area of the three reserves selected and referred in the Commissioners Report of last year. However, when these were selected the subsequent enrolment of fifty members at Lansdowne House was not anticipated, and consequently the area covered by the complete allotments was less than the band is entitled to under the Treaty.

On an enrollment of 627 the band should obtain 125.4 square miles, or 14.4 square miles in excess of last year’s allotment. To obtain this means an enlargement of Reserve 1, Trout Lake, from 70 square miles to 84.4 square miles, covered in the summary of this report.

Through an error the dimensions in last year’s report for Reserve 2, Sachigo, were incorrect, although the area, 14 square miles, was correct. These dimensions are now amended so that the block will be 3 1/5 miles wide by 4 miles long. A rough description pending final survey is included in the summarized recommendations contained herein.


Fort Severn Indians who were taken into Treaty and paid their annuity for the first time at Fort Severn” 25 July 1930
Fort Severn Indians who were taken into Treaty and paid their annuity for the first time at Fort Severn” 25 July 1930

Fort Severn

July 25th

Work at Trout Lake was finished at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday July 24th, when the party sought the air route once more and headed for the first Hudson’s Bay objective, Fort Severn, down the Severn river 180 miles by air from Trout Lake, and over 250 miles by canoe.  This post was circled at 12:50 p.m. and the party for the first time gazed froman elevation of five thousand feet up the great inland sea that sweeps the Northern shores and affords the Hudson’s Bay Company access to lonely posts, including Fort Severn, it had established and in active operation in the latter part of the 17th century when the Bourbon Kings were trying to plant the Fleur-de-Lis in the Western wilds.

The post is on the West side of the river about four miles from where it empties into the Hudson’s Bay.  The few buildings erected, including the inevitable store, freight shed, factor’s residence and small log houses that shelter the limited employed are placed on level ground back sone distance from the bank which rises thirty to forty feet from the water’s edge.  Accommodation was secured at the company’s house, the factor being George Tait, a competent and experienced official with an obliging clerk Henry Mann.  The only other white man here is Harold Bland, a former employee of sixteen years’ standing with the company, now a trader in his own right. 

Dinner was served within an hour after arrival and consisted in part of young duck, a delicacy much appreciated by the partakers whose absence from the freshness of things for some time made the offering the more acceptable. 

The weather being rainy and stormy the Indians were asked to assemble on the morrow.  At nine o’clock Friday, July 25th, some 75, the entire membership, selected their leaders, three in number, George Bluecoat, Munzie Albany and Saul Crow.  Charlie Gray a half breed acted as interpreter.  

In the early stages of their conference with the Commissioners the Indians under their natural restraint, or childish reserve in the presence of white men, displayed some hesitancy but gradually on realizing that the Commissioners were present as friend to give that which they asked they took on an air of responsiveness and freely talked.  A frank expression of ideas and opinion were exchanged, and the Indians who showed an understanding of Treaty No. 9 were satisfied with the points presented and retired for final instructions from the other members, who gave the lead general direction to accept Adhesion.  The official document was signed by the Commissioners and the leaders and witnessed by all the members of the Treaty party and George Third, H. F. Bland, and Henry J. Mann. 

Seventy – five were then enrolled, these comprising 15 men, 15 women, 22 boys and 23 girls.  Each was paid $4.00 gratuity and $4.00 annuity. 

At the elections, following payments, George Bluecoat was elected Chief and Munzie Albany Councillor, and to each was given a medal.  The Union Jack was unfurled and accepted by the Chief as a symbol of “law, order, peace and protection.” 

Their reserve, containing 15.2 square miles, was with the approval of the Commissioners, after due consideration, selected at the mouth of the Beaverstone river, where it joins the Severn River, and is to have a frontage of 1.5 miles on each side of the Beaverstone and a depth of 5 miles more or less from its mouth, the river being shown on map No. 20 a, issued in 1926 by the Province of Ontario, as Beaverstone, although it is called “Castorum” by the Hudson’s Bay Company and “We-ke-mow” by the Indians.  

The accustomed feast was provided and their “table” display was more palatable in appearance than that observed in certain other bands.

Fort Severn Indians enjoying the feast given by the Government. LAC Accession 1971-205 box. 3265

The hunt during the season just closed was nearly equal to that of the previous one, the predominant skins being Beaver and Otter.  White Fox, of which there has been a decided scarcity for several seasons, is again appearing and prospects for a good return are bright. 

Goods at this point, because of lower transportation charges are much less than at Trout Lake, flour for instance being only $20. A cwt as against $38 at the inland post. Lake Trout and Whitefish are available, though not in abundance, at high tide.  They generally follow the ice and go with the Spring freshets to the Bay, returning the last of September and October to the upper stretches of the river, their spawning beds.  This trekking movement account for the obvious scarcity of fresh fish during the period of summer encampment.  Speckled Trout are procurable in certain fresh water streams a few miles from the post.

Commercial communication of Fort Severn with the outside world is by schooner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which calls twice a year.  The Fort York from Churchill was eagerly awaited at Treaty time but did not materialize- neither an outlook perched upon the roof of the factor’s house nor a scanning from the departing planes, having sighted the longed for cargo carrier. 

Friday evening, July 25th, saw the completion of work and early Saturday morning was fixed for a take-off to Winisk.  Low tides prevented this, the planes being high and dry at the appointed time.  They had been tied to shore due to the unsafe anchorage in deep water where the slippery clay bottom failed to hold the light anchors of the planes.  Tides and variable winds are two important factors demanding the attention of airmen, who contemplated the ue of Fort Severn as a port of call.  Timely action on the part of the crew averted a serious mishap to one of the planes that had, with the outgoing tide urged by a wind, drifted from its anchorage down towards the mouth of the river. 

Bad weather detained the party until Sunday, July 27th, at 3.20 pm. Pushing off from for Winisk the planes skirted the Southern shore of Hudson’s Bay, the approach to which is a low-lying flat muskeg area, the last wash of myriads of streams and important large rivers draining extensive sections of the Patricia portion of the District of Kenora. 


July 27th

“Countless wild ducks, several white whales and distant ice floes, were visible from the planes. Poor visibility and an approaching dense fog somewhat disconcerted the pilots after five minutes of flying. As the fog thickened and lowered the planes were lost to the view of each other and an unusually low altitude was taken, an East wind speedily forced the fog into the face of the planes, now completely enveloped. A forced landing on the Winisk river near its mouth was decided upon … To have waited another minute in the case of plane113, and likewise 114, would have been flirting with grave danger, if not death, and Flight Lieutenant Harding turned the plane’s nose into the terrifying fog up the river and somewhat jarringly though safely landed … within three minutes the fog was again pierced and down bolted 114, in a similar fashion, to a point perilously near 113.”  At that moment the flood gates of heaven opened and a lashing wind set up.  As the fog lifted and the downpour lessened only to be repeated with the double fore and fury a few minutes later, an opening in the fog between the points of two island occurred and the party with a sigh of relief descended, dimly silhouetted in the background on the mainland a few miles up the river, beyond the rapids, the little cross tipped Catholic mission and the gal-tipped official residence of the Hudson’s Bay Company. 

On the left were faint outlines of teepees from which there shortly issued several agile Indian braves who though never having seen nor heard the flying fire canoe were aroused by the swish of the air paddle, the whirr of the motor, and rushing down the sticky, slippery, slimy clay banks, leaped into their responsive transports with the trusty blades, long Spruce poles and tracking ropes, and were soon shooting the rapids to satisfy a keen longing to gaze on the expected flying machines and to appease their minds troubled by the thought that a landing at the location spelt disaster. 

The Winisk Indians were joyfully welcomed by the Commissioners, who with Dr. O’Gorman were paddled, poled and tracked up the treacherous rapids, some four miles to the looked for post.  The Company’s factor, John Harris, courteously received the Government officials and accorded all carte blanche possession of  his tidy though restricted quarters.  It was he who had mapped a landing course and planted buoys for safe anchorage and take off for seaplanes about five miles above the post, which site later the pilots were forced to use and record as the only safe one for this post. 

Winisk post presents a dreary and depressing picture situated as it is in a lonely position on the West bank of the Winisk river about four miles South of Hudson’s Bay.  This river takes its rise within a few miles of the headwaters of the Attawapiskat River and flows Northerly and Easterly three hundred miles into Hudson’s Bay; like other rivers flowing into the Bay, it is subject to tidal conditions and has at its mouth a serious of deltas that are being annually transformed.  Th clay soil with the contant lashing of the tidal waters and the recurring Spring floods produces a handicap to shore activities. 

The approach to the post both from up and down the river via (illegible) navigaied with difficulty only by the primitive but indispensable canoe. 

Early Monday morning, July 28th, the Commissioners summoned the Indians, 85 in all, and hoped to conclude the work in order to take off on Tuesday.  The band chose three leaders to (illegible) negotiations, Xavier Patrick, John Bird and David Sutherland.  The Interpreters were Rev. Father Martel and William Oman.  These Indians possessed more knowledge of the terms and conditions of Treaty No. 9 than many members of other bands which have been admitted twenty-five years ago, and consequently discussions were shorter and explanations fewer.  When the Commissioners attempted to elucidate a certain point they were met by the interruption politely made, “We know perfectly all about this Treaty.” 

Adhesion was readily signed by the contracting parties, the commissioners first and leaders second, followed by the witnesses Rev.L. P. Martel, O.M.I. J. Thos. O’Gorman, M. D. John Harris, Hudson’s Bay Company, and R. T. Wheeler, Clerk. 

Elections resulted in Xavier Patrick as Chief and David Sutherland Councillor.  Dr. O’Gorman presented the Union Jack to the Chief, appropriately explaining its significance, and the Commissioners pinned upon the elected ones their medals and counselled them in divers (sic) matters. 

A feast of ample proportions was tendered them but before partaking these humble teepee inhabitants with a Christian faith approached the missionary requesting that they gather in God’s name and thank Him for all His goodness and seek His Blessing. 

Although poor in appearance and limited in possessions they did not complain.  They found their means of sustenance while camping at this forlorn post sorely restricted.  Fish was scarce provisions were not in plenty and the general condition of the Indians demanded their early return to the bush where they could gain a livelihood. 

A reserve, comprising 17 square miles, was selected at the old abandoned outpost of the Hudson’s Bay Company up the Winisk River. This old outpost was formerly called “Sousahagen” by which name the Indians now identify Asheweig River.

The reserve shall be so laid out as to comprise a width of three miles, or 1 ½ miles on each side of the West branch of the Asheweig River where it empties into or joins the Winisk river, and to follow along both sides of the Asheweig River to a sufficient depth, approximating 5.66 miles, to afford a total area of 17 square miles.  While the reserve is 150 miles from the post was chosen, as claimed by the Indians, because it is said to be well wooded and good hunting section. 


This missionary’s humble bearing and quiet assurance greatly impressed the official party. From the moment of his greeting until his “au revoir” he was a human barometer predicting the weather, approximate or remote, with an uncanny exactitude. His philosophy, ripened by years of experience, and instinctive powers unostentatiously excercised, to discern and disclose the secrets of the elements, are of incalculable value to those who travel by paddle or plane. For the magnanimous treatment he accorded the party and the important data he so generously furnished the Commissioners record their thanks.

The signing of the Treaty at Winisk 1930
The signing of the Treaty at Winisk 1930


August 1 

A start for Attawapiscat was made at 11:45.  A coastal course by the Hudson’s Bay around Cape Henrietta, and then down the West shore of James Bay, as originally intended, was abandoned because of the hazardous fogs about the cape, where it was learned that up to the middle of August the ice packs render flying most uncertain.  A cross-country first flight was substituted and after about three hours over country, much of which was terrifying from the viewpoint of a possible forced landing , Attawapiscat was reached. 

This post situated at the mouth of the Attawapiscat river, has, like other James Bay posts on the West side, the appearance of a modern community with its long line of coastal buildings including those of the two trading companies, and th Anglican and Catholic missions with the framework of a pretentious new church. An unique saw mill is operated by the by the lay brothers of the Catholic Mission on a dual power system of gasoline and stam this mill being the most northerly in the Province of Ontario and used exclusively for the cutting of a lumber for church purposes. 

Rev. Father Belleau and his Assistant, Father Langlois, ever solicitous for the welfare of the Indians, wholeheartedly cooperated with the Commissioners. 

The Attawapiskat Indians, formerly members of the Albany Band, were detached from the latter and aggregated into a separate band at Treaty payment last year.  The number in all is 583 but of these only 100 met the Commissioners, the others having decamped for their hunting grounds prior to the belated arrival of the planes. 

Their Chief, Xavier Chookomoolin, with the three Councillors Jacob Chookomoolin, Jacob Gull, and John Nakogee remained to receive the annuities for the absentees and to discuss the question of the selection of a reserve. 

Commissioner Cain joined with paymaster Awery in paying annuities all day and at night conferred with the Indians on the reserve question, the determination of which, both in respect of its size and location, as indicated in the report of last year was deferred until this year. 

When Treaty No. 9 was signed  the Albany Band  was admitted and a reserve, based upon the number then enrolled, 140 square miles, was selected at the mouth of the Albany river, duly surveyed by O.L.S. James Dobie, and shown on plan dated  April  12th,  1913,  but  never approved by the Ontario  Government.   The  present  membership  of the Albany band, (which excluded the Attawapiskat Indians formerly of the Albany band) is 688, and on an accurate mathematical basis they are entitled to 137.6 square miles, whereas the reserve they already held, and over which they have exercised ownership, contains as above stated 140 square miles.

After mature consideration the Commissioners deemed advisable and in the interests both of the Indians and the Crown, that such reserve remain intact and that the area to be allotted to the Attawapiscat band constitute the difference between the aggregate allotment to which both bands are entitled and the 140 square miles. The total membership of the two bands is 1,232 which, on the basis of one square mile for each family of five, is equivalent to 244.4 square miles, and this reduced by 140 square miles is 104.4 square miles, the size of the reserve allocated to the Attawapiskat band, or only two and a.fifth square miles less  than the exact mathematical requirement.

The Attawapiscat Indians accepted the arrangement with evident satisfaction and expressed thanks for the sympathy with which their requests were considered.

The reserve was selected at the junction of the Little Eqwan river and the main Eqwan river to start about 4 ½ miles west of the said junction and to consist of a block 6 miles wide and 17.4 miles long, extending down the main Eqwan and as far as possible including 3 miles on each side thereof.  This inland site was justified by the Indians’ contention, vouchsafed by others, that the coast trapping restricted mostly to foxes, had been lamentably diminished during late years and the selected area would afford mixed trapping, good fishing and a centralized meeting point for the much scattered members. 

Many questions, beyond the purview of the Commissioners were presented, and while a sympathetic hearing was given the Indians they were referred to the resident Indian Agent, Dr. Hamilton of Moose Factory, who had already paid the band an official visit and contemplated another at an early date. 

The post factors, Mr. Ambrose and Mr. Graham, extended the usual courtesies to the party.

The elimination of so many individual annuity payments by making them through the Chief and Councillors and the use of these representatives as the sole medium through with the reserve decision was reached, saved two days here and the work was completed on Saturday night, August 2nd.  

Following Church service on Sunday, August 3rd the planes hopped off for Fort Albany and arrived there in less than an hour. 

Fort Albany

August 4th

The Commissioners and Dr. Gorman registered at the Hudson’s Bay Company and the crew at Revillion Freres, Mr. Watts being the capable factor at the former and Mr. Horne at the latter.

The spiritual welfare of the Indians is amply provided for by the Anglican and Roman Catholic Mission.  Rev. Mr. Northam who last year was seriously ill and had to be transported by Treaty plane to Sudbury for successful hospital treatment were received by the Commissioners and during their stay at the post got a delightful entertainment in the school house for the Indians and members of the party.  By lantern slides an movie pictures he depicted “The Epic Indian Treaty Party Trip of 1929” and gave evidence of his whole souled interest in his work.

An Indian Religious Ceremony at Fort Albany LAC Accession No. 1971-205 Box 3265

The Roman Catholic Fathers, Belledeau and (illeg) are in charge of a large Indian school and have a conventional Church and other substantial buildings. Due to Spring floods their school and mission house were flooded to the tops of the lower stories in 1928, and in constant dread of a recurrence the Fathers have undertaken the erection of a more commodious school in addition to the hospital and farm buildings up the river on the opposite side, about four miles, onhight and more dependable grounds.  Here they have a creditable saw mill and have completed a cement foundation for the new school, 100’ by 40 ‘ and an addition for a hospital 40’ by 40’.  They are methodically proceeding towards the establishment of an industrial farm, where they hope in due time to train the Indian youths in the art of producing for self preservation. 

The Commissioners were grateful guests at a splendid dinner at the Mission whose fine green vegetables from the Mission’s garden, and beautiful fresh milk from the first cows seen on the trip, were served. 

On August 4th over four hundred Indians were paid and hearings given to many concerning matters within the domain of the resident Indian Agent. The same plaintive tones as heard at most of the posts were poured out here, that the hunt was poor, the fish scarce, and earning a living hard.  Appeals for relief measures had been previously investigated and provided for by Dr. Hamilton. 

Moose Factory

August 5th

“Moose Factory and Fort Albany have a wealth of history and tradition behind them. Captured and re-captured in the latter part of the 17th Century, in the hectic struggle between the English and French, these posts remain sturdy examples of the great business venture undertaken in 1670 and carried on for over two hundred and fifty years by the great Hudson’s Bay Company, whose history is replete with romance, adventure and mystery, and whose extending ramifications in diverse departments of the economic world are traceable to their original trading with the Indians.

“The prominence of Moose Factory, hitherto largely related to the fur trade and the company, is now being accentuated and made permanent. It is the proposed terminus of the extension to the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway, a Provincially owned and operated railway, the extension of which will be completed within a year.”

“The appointment by the Department of Indian Affairs of a resident Indian Agent, a medical man of many years standing, was a commendable one, and will in the opinion of the Commissioners offer a solution for many of the Indian problems arising in and about James Bay that are difficult to understand, much less solve at such long range as is the capital from the scene of wholesale, if not always wholesome, demands. The Indians consider the appointment not merely a gallant gesture but a practical step in studying their needs at first hand.”

“Passing Observations.”

“Contrary to occasional opinion, expressed by certain critics, magazine writers, feigned historians and pseudo experts on Indian matters, the early extinction of the Indian is not particularly evidenced in the Indians under Treaty No.9, whose numbers approximate four thousand. These Indians during the last fifteen years according to official figures, show a natural increase of fourteen per cent, thus disproving the theory that, because of alleged unchecked epidemics, the lack of ready applied medical science, with its modern conveniences and varied adaptations, extermination of this nomadic race is rapid. While the loss of close contact with medical and surgical science is regrettable though unavoidable, the periodic visits by officials of the Department of Indian Affairs and their instructions on the care and cleanliness of the body and on their general habits, the wide open spaces, exhilarating air and carefree, enervating, nonchalant existence, are sufficiently compensating factors to maintain a fair balance in the scales of life and mortality.”

“Means of Livelihood.”

“Even in the far distant unsettled and unorganized sections the Indians, solely dependent upon the chase for a means of livelihood are facing real trials in their efforts.

“As civilization on the wheels of industrial and commercial progress pushes back the frontier, the trapping fields are invaded and the product of the hunt diminished.

“The Commissioners, while fully cognizant of the continued perplexing problem confronting the Government, and students of Sociology in respect of a satisfactory system of assimilation, always with due regard for the Indians’ instinctive traits, believe that an intensive effort at a not too distant date should be made to teach the Indian to apply himself to the production of certain food stuffs to provide at least for his own sustenance…

“Unless and until the Indians affect some active interest in the direction they should be discouraged from loitering too long at summer encampments where their sources of supply are limited and urged to return within reasonable time to their hunting ground where they shall not face starvation.”

General Summary

The Commissioners in conclusion respectfully submit the following recommendations, including certain of those covered by the report of last year:-

(a) That the surrender made in the year 1905 by the Indians of such portion of the territory, then in the North West Territories and now within the Province of Ontario, be approved and confirmed.

(b)   That the following reserves situated in the area refer to in the preceding paragraph (a) be approved and confirmed:-

1.  Osnaburgh, North side Albany river – 53 square miles,

2.  Fort Hope – 100 square miles,

3.  Marten Falls – 30 square miles,

4.  Fort Albany – 140 square miles,

(c) That all the new reserves hereinafter roughly described and shown on accompanying map be approved and confirmed.

 For Trout Lake Indians.

 Trout Lake, – Reserve 1, lying on the East and South East shore of Trout Lake, where it empties into the Fawn river and on both sides thereof along the shore of said lake for miles more or less and back therefrom to a distance of approximately 12 miles, always as far as possible, at a distance of 3 ½ miles from the shore on each side of the main channel of the said Fawn river, containing 85 square miles more or less.

Sachigo Lake, – Reserve 2, lying at the outlet of Sachigo Lake where it empties into Sachigo river and extending on both sides thereof along the shore of the said lake 1 ½ miles more or less and back therefrom to a distance of approximately 4 miles, always, as far as possible, at a distance of 1 ½ miles from the shores on each side of the main channel of the said river, containing 14 square miles more or less.

Wunnumin Lake, – Reserve 3, lying at the South East end Wunnumin Lake where it empties into the Winisk river, 4 ½ miles in frontage by 6 miles in depth, the area to be largely to the South side, the North boundary to be so extended as to include sufficient area on both sides of the river, containing 27 square miles more or less.

For Caribou Lake Indians

Caribou Lake, – lying on the South shore of Caribou Lake slightly to the left or Westerly end, so that sufficient frontage of a somewhat extended bay will be included, the dimensions to be approximately 5 miles long by 4.4 miles wide.

For Deer Lake Band

Sandy Lake Narrows, – Lying at the Narrows, being a stretch of water lying westward Sandy Lake and Lake Oo-pe-qua-yah, the reserve to comprise 10,624 acres, or approximately 17 square miles, to be laid out in a rectangle having a width as so far as possible, of at least 3 miles with sufficient depth to satisfy the acreage requirement.

For Fort Severn Band

Fort Severn, at the mouth of the Beaverstone river, where it joins the Severn river, 1 ½ miles frontage on each side of the Beaverstone river and back 5 miles more or less from the mouth, the said river being shown on map No. 20 a., issued 1926 by the Province of Ontario, as “Beaverstone”, although called “Castorum” by the Hudson’s Bay Company and “We-ke-mow” by the Indians, containing 15 square miles more or less.

For Winisk Band

Winisk, situated at the old outpost at the Hudson’s Bay Company up the Winisk river at its junction with what is known as the Asheweig river, the reserve to be so laid out as to comprise a width of 3 miles, or 1 ½ miles on each side of the West branch of the Asheweig river, where it empties into the Winisk, and to follow both sides of the said Asheweig river 5 2/3 miles, or such distance as will afford a total area of 17 square miles more or less. 

For Attawapiskat Band

Attawapiscat, situated at the junction of the Little Eqwan river with the main Eqwan river, to start on the main Eqwan river at a point 4 ½ miles West of the said junction and to comprise a width of 6 miles, or 3 miles on each side of the river, and a depth down the river of approximately 17.4 miles, containing 104.4 square miles more or less.

(d)   That any mining claims staked out and recorded, within any of the above mentioned unsurveyed reserves, subsequent to the date of the signing of the Adhesion covering the areas, shall in all respects be subject to the provisions of Ontario Statutes 1924, Cap.15, 14 Geo. V. which defines and protects the rights of the Indians,

(e)   That early steps be taken to have the newly selected reserves regularly surveyed by an Ontario Land Surveyor and plans thereof lodged in the necessary record office of the Dominion of Canada and the Province of Ontario; furthermore that ample notice be given the Chief of each band of the approximate time that the surveyor will be upon the ground to survey the allotment for reserve or reserves and permit accredited representatives of the band to assist in selecting and establishing the lines and permanent posts.

Accompanying this report and being part and parcel thereof re:-

(1)   Map of area covered by Adhesion to Treaty No. 9, with explanatory legend.

(2)   Pictures:

a.  Signing of Adhesion at Wendigo,

b.  Group of Indians enrolled at Fort Severn,

c.   Signatories and witnesses at Winisk.

The Commissioners beg to submit herewith the original Adhesions to Treaty No. 9, signed in triplicate.

All of which is respectfully submitted by

 Your Obedient Commissioners,W.S. Cain,H.N. Awrey