E.B. Borron's Report to Oliver Mowat

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E.B. Borron's Report to Oliver Mowat

Name of document:

E.B. Borron's Report to Oliver Mowat

Type of document:

Primary documentation, report, Archives of Ontario

Summary of the data:

This report, authored by E.B. Borron, Stipendiary Magistrate, for Oliver Mowat, Attorney General for the Province of Ontario, on December 31, 1891, outlines Borron's review of the claims of First Nations people under the Robinson Treaties. The arbitration between the Ontario, Quebec and Canadian governments was set to investigate who was responsible for the payment of annuities under the Robinson Treaties, which resulted in increased attention to annuity entitlement under the said treaties. Borron also included a cover letter, which summarizes the contents of the report.

In the report, Borron argues that Métis families should no longer be included on the pay lists. The Robinson-Superior Treaty, 1850 included a provision regarding what would happen if the population of First Nations decreased however, there is no such provision outlining what would happen if the population increased. The treaty states the following:

[P]rovided further that the number of Indians entitled to the benefit of this Treaty shall amount to two thirds of their present numbers (which is twelve hundred and forty) to entitle them to claim the full benefit thereof, and should their numbers at any future period not amount to two thirds of twelve hundred and forty, the annuity shall be diminished in proportion to their actual numbers. ("Treaty No. 60")

According to Borron, William Benjamin Robinson did not include a provision for the increase in the First Nations population in the treaties because he "must have noted all the influences that were making against the increase, if not the survival of the tribes or bands with whom he was treating." (Borron 20). Therefore, according to Borron, Robinson must have believed that an increase in the population of First Nations was impossible.

Second, Borron argues that while there are more names on the pay lists then there were in 1850, the actual population of First Nations had not increased. Borron believes, therefore, that a revision of the pay lists is necessary. In order to make these revisions Borron argues that the legal right of the Métis to participate in the annuities under the Robinson Treaties must be determined. Borron disapprovingly cites a meeting in Ottawa in 1884 when Mr. Robertson, Treasurer of the Province of Quebec, asked Mr. Vankoughnet, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, "What do you call Indians, Half-breeds or Quarter breeds? If you stick to the letter of the Treaties you only have to pay Indians" (Borron 22). Mr. Vankoughnet replied, "[t]hose who are recognized by the Government, are Indians," Vankoughnet continued that, "[h]alf-breeds are by the law of Ontario Indians-as long as they have Indian blood in their veins they are Indians legally" (Borron 22) (See Conference Notes). Borron speculates that this is not how Robinson interpreted the definition of Métis in 1850.

Third, Borron argues that the Métis were never intended to be included in the treaties, to prove his point he cites Robinson's Report Regarding Treaty Negotiations. Specifically, Borron cites Robinson's response to the Chiefs' inquiries about the Métis, he responded that "they might give as much or as little to that class of claimants as they pleased." (Robinson par. 17).

In addition to advocating the removal of Métis families from the pay lists, Borron also describes the Métis and their way of life. According to Borron, families found in Sault Ste. Marie, Fort William and Michipicoten, (now Wawa) are the progeny of voyageurs or servants of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and North West Company (NWC) who married First Nations women. Borron goes on to write that the Métis "lived in log houses, and when not employed by the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company or others -- as voyageurs, boatmen, couriers or labourers would eke out a subsistence by hunting and fishing or in various other ways" (Borron 26). According to Borron, in the early spring the Métis harvested maple-sugar, in the summer they cultivated small patches of corn and potatoes, in the fall, they would go to known fishing spots on lakes Huron and Superior and use nets to catch enough fish for the winter months, and finally, in the winter they would cut and haul cord wood for their own use or for sale. According to Borron, very few Métis had regular hunting grounds and were not dependent on game or fur-bearing animals for subsistence.

Borron concludes that there are number of irregularities in the definition of who should be included on the pay lists, he blames the Department of Indian Affairs for this. He writes that over half of those on the pay lists in 1891 are Métis, he goes on to state that no pay lists can be found for the years 1851 to 1855. We have copies of the pay lists for those years today; however, and many names of ancestors of Red Sky Métis Independent Nation™ are included (see Founding Families).

Important dates mentioned in the document:

December 31, 1891: Date Borron authored the report.
January 20, 1892: Cover letter sent with report.

Important people discussed in the document:

E.B. Borron
Oliver Mowat
William Benjamin Robinson
L. Vankoughnet
Mr. Robertson

Specific location(s) mentioned in the document (if applicable):

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Fort William, Ontario
Michipicoten, (now Wawa) Ontario
Penetanguishene, Ontario
Batchawana Bay, Ontario

Non-specific location(s) mentioned in the document (if applicable):

Lake Superior, Ontario-Minnesota-Wisconsin-Michigan
Lake Huron, Ontario
Pigeon River, Minnesota–Ontario

Specific event(s) identified in the document (if applicable):

Robinson-Superior Treaty, 1850 (September 7, 1850)

Relevant citations:

Archives of Ontario. F1027-1-2, "E.B. Borron's Report to Oliver Mowat," 31 December 1891, MU 1465, Box 27, Item 27/32/08.

Archives of Ontario. F1027-1-2, "E.B. Borron's Cover Letter," 31 December 1891, MU 1465, Box 27, Item 27/32/08.

Gale, Alison. "Robinson Treaty Métis: Historical Report." Claims Research and Assessment Directorate Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. (1998). Print.

Library and Archives Canada, W.B. Robinson, RG. 10, "Treaty No. 60," volume 1963, 7 September 1850, file 5045-2, microfilm reel C-11122.

Library and Archives Canada, W.B. Robinson, RG. 10, "W.B. Robinson Report to R. Bruce," volume 191, 24 September 1850, nos. 5401-5500, no. 5451, microfilm reel C-11513.

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