Minutes of a meeting of the Governor and Council of Assiniboia, held 19th October, 1869.
Address to Governor McDougall
The President [Judge John Black] then submitted to the Council a communication which had been addressed to Governor McTavish by members of the Council of Assiniboia, requesting him to call a meeting of the Council “For the purpose of drawing up a proper Address of welcome to the Honorable Wm. McDougall, the newly appointed Governor of the North-West Territory, and of taking the necessary steps for presenting it to him on his arrival here.” In the propriety and desirableness of the object of the petition, the Council expressed their hearty concurrence and with the view of giving expression to their sentiments, adopted it in toto as the form of an Address to be presented to Governor McDougall; the following being a copy of the draft to which the Council so agreed.
“May it please Your Excellency.– We the members of the Council of Assiniboia, nominated by the Governor and Committee of the Honorable Hudson’s Bay Company, desire to welcome Your Excellency on your arrival in this country to assume the office of Governor under the new arrangements to which Her most Gracious Majesty has given Her consent. We would express the hope that you may personally enjoy your residence amongst us, and our conviction that your experience as a statesman will be of great service to this country at the present juncture.
Your excellency may rely on receiving from us individually, as private citizens, our best assistance in your administration of the affairs of the country; and as those who were formerly accountable under the Governor appointed by the Honorable Company for the direction of affairs, we venture to assure Your Excellency that you will find the old settlers of this country loyal subjects of Her Majesty, obedient to the laws, and ready to support Your Excellency in the just administration of them.
We quite feel that from the altered circumstances of this country, which has been rapidly changing within the last few years, it is well that its Government has been transferred from the great commercial body on which it hitherto devolved; but the administration of the Honorable Company was we believe, on the whole well suited to the past state of things, and we are not unmindful of many acts of kindness shewn by it from time to time to the settlement, as for example, in the past year, when in addition to a generous vote of money, a large amount of grain was contributed to meet the necessities arising from the great clamity of 1868.
Your Excellency can then well understand that there are mingled feelings in our community with respect to the great change that has taken place, and even misgivings as regards the future in the minds of some; but as we gladly see in the appointment of Your Excellency a proof of the interest that the Government of the Dominion takes in this land, so we have the fullest confidence, not only that all just rights of the old settlers will be respected, but that the transition will be made as easy for them as possible.
Hitherto we have been so far removed from any settled community, that the outlay that would have been necessary to open up the country rendered the attempt impracticable. Indeed we believe that in the future there will not only be no surprise that nothing of the kind was attempted, but that it will be recognized as most creditable to the wisdom, discretion and honorable conduct of those who adminstered the affairs of this country, that a small defenceless settlement even existed for many years among wild tribes of Indians, without annoyance or trouble from them, and that profitable trade was carried on without difficulty through the length and breath of the land.
But as our isolation is passing away, it will soon be practicable enough to open up the country to emigrants and to develope [sic] its resources, and we feel sure that its union with the Dominion of Canada will greatly promote this result.
What the resources of this country are it is difficult to say, as they have yet to be accurately examined and reported upon, but we do not doubt that they are great and sufficient to maintain a considerable population.
We would then express the hope that Your Excellency may see a large development of the resources of the country, while it is under your charge, and we pray that by the guidance and blessing of God, wise measures may be adopted, and peace, plenty and prosperity be the result.
Signed in the name of the Council of Assiniboia.
[Source: Among “certified extracts” from the HBC council’s the minute book, sent to Donald A. Smith in 1874.) Parliamentary Inquiry, 95]