Session 1, Day 8: 24 March

NB: text taken from Archives of Manitoba, MG3 A1-15, Red River Disturbance collection, “Seasonal [sic: Sessional] Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, March 1870,” appears in black; text taken from other sources appears in grey.

Previous page: Session 1, Day 7: 23 March


Legislative Assembly Chamber, Upper Fort Garry

Thursday, 24 March 1870[1]

The President took the chair at noon.

The minutes of the previous sitting having been read and approved,

Hon. Mr. Fraser, seconded by Hon. Mr. Hay, moved — That a committee composed of the following members of this House — Hon. Messrs. Lepine, Bruce, Dauphinais, Bannatyne, Bunn and Tait — be appointed to administer the following oath of office to the Hon. Louis Riel, President of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia, viz,

I, Louis Riel, do hereby solemnly swear that I will faithfully fulfil, to the best of my ability, my duties as President of the Provisional Government, proclaimed on the 24th November 1869, and also all the duties, which may become connected with the office of President of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia, as they may hereafter be defined by the voice of the people.

The name of Hon. Mr. Andre Beauchemin having been substituted for that of Hon. Mr. Lepine, who was absent, the resolution was put and carried.

The President having taken the oath of office, the Clerk of the Assembly took the following oath:

I, William Coldwell, do solemnly swear that I will well and truly perform all the duties of Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia, to the best of my ability, — So help me God.

The following oath was then administered to the members of the Assembly:

I, __________, do solemnly swear that I will, to the best of my ability, faithfully perform all the duties of a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia — So help me God.

The following members were present and took the oath —

Hon. Messrs. Bannatyne, Tait, Hay, Garrioch, Bunn, Gunn, Fraser, Olone, Sinclair, O’Donoghue, Norquay, Touron, Lascerte, Harrison, Dauphinais, Poitras, Bruce, Baptiste Beauchemin, Parenteau, Schmidt, Pagé, Andre Beauchemin.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue introduced the bill (No. 1) of which he had given notice, providing that the Two Mile Hay privilege be converted into a fee simple ownership.

The bill was read a first time.


An Act respecting the Two Mile Hay Privilege.

Whereas, it is expedient to convert the Two Mile Hay Privilege heretofore enjoyed by the inhabitants of Red River, into a fee simple ownership — be it therefore enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia:

1. That the Two Mile Hay Privilege heretofore enjoyed by inhabitants of Red River, is converted by Act of this Legislature into a fee simple ownership.[2]

The President: —

Gentlemen and Honorable Members of the Legislative Assembly,— I thank you for the privilege you are kind enough to grant me, of speaking on such an important question as that of the Two-Mile Hay Privilege. I have had, before this time, the honor of casually debating in this Chamber. This is no more my role. I was called to another position, and I must be worthy of it. My intention is not to abuse the privilege you have granted me. I have only to suggest to you some thoughts, which I beg you to accept as respectful advice:— What is the intention of the people in asking for the two-mile hay privilege? The intention is to double the size of their lands in order to secure thus sufficient advantages, which the present condition of our farms does not afford, for reasons peculiar to this country. Do the people ask the two-mile hay privilege only for hay? Some say, yes; others desire it for the sake of enlarging their fields for culture; others are also looking for wood. This two-mile hay privilege is liable to be converted by certain parties into speculative purposes.

Hon. members and gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly,— Your motive in dealing with this question, must be to satisfy the public, but let us remember that we cannot satisfy the public, if we are not cautious, if we are not impartial, if we do not take all the necessary pains; that is to say, we have to be just. In being fair, we cannot fail. Now let us examine if every one who has a front lot on the rivers, is entitled to the two mile hay privilege. If we wish to secure that advantage to the people, without regard to their personal merit, without regard to their wealth or poverty; If we are determined to act impartially in the matter, this House, I am confident, will see that all those who have before [had] this two-mile hay privilege understood it, as when first spoken of in this country, [to mean that they] are reasonably entitled to have it secured to them, in one way or another, and it may be afterward disposed of by them in any way they like, if not against the terms of the proposed law. Those whose lands are crossed in the rear by other owners might, I think, tender the idea of a public privilege, [and] be entitled to a certain compensation. But is it prudent, in now securing this hay privilege, to convert it immediately into fee simple? I don’t think so. There are too many difficulties ahead which can hardly be overcome, even by time. Those who are asking for the hay privilege, so properly called, may find fault with those who would turn the benefit of it into speculation. Those who possess lands so situated as to find obstacles in getting their two-mile hay privilege immediately behind will probably complain of the manner with which they might be treated, even if they are treated liberally and well. Because the question would have been settled before they saw all its difficulties; if these difficulties are not overcome, they will complain. How are we to answer their complaints — just or unjust? You know that, even if you gratify the people by a great privilege for their own welfare, as soon as you are committed to them, even by generosity, they become your judge, and is it often, in such cases, that their judgement has been favorable? Apart from that, the two-mile hay privilege seems to meet another no small difficulty in the eyes of some; namely, the Indian title.

Hon. members of the Assembly, the Government has but one thing to gain, it is confidence in its actions for the public interest. Here, let us afford a wise delay; give to the settlers the opportunity of getting acquainted with the numerous and serious embarrassments of the question, and then if they choose to demand the two-mile hay privilege or an equivalent, let them petition for it. In case the great majority would bring their voice in favor, take up the question prudently, use your wisdom, and when your decision and that of the people is matured, pass the law; a very special, a deep, and a sound one. Having done your duty in such a manner you will have won the thanks of your country for a long time to come, and this Legislative Assembly will be a glory of the Provisional Government. The hay privilege is a very important question for us. The people ask for it, because they urgently require it. Let the Provisional Government grant it to them, but, I repeat, after having taken all the necessary precautions.[3]

The hon. gentleman [O’Donoghue] suggested its [the Bill respecting the Two Mile Hay Privilege] reference to a committee composed of hon. members from each side of the House — said committee to have power to sit during the recess, and to report next session to the House.

Hon. Mr. Bunn introduced a bill providing for the better administration of public justice.

Bill read a first and second time.


An Act Providing for the Due Administration of Public Justice.

Whereas it is expedient to provide for the Administration of Public Justice, — Be it therefore enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia:[4]

1. That all the Justices, Magistrates, and all the other subordinate judicial officials, as far as it may be considered expedient and practicable, who held office under the Governor and Council of Assiniboia be reappointed and empowered to act in their several capacities under the Provisional Government and that new Judicial Districts be formed and new officials appointed when it is deemed necessary, at the Portage, Manitoba, Oak Point. Such appointments to be subject to approval of the Assembly.

2. And that all Local Laws and regulations which were in operation under the Governor and Council of Assiniboia be now adopted and continue in full force, until amended or repealed on by an act of this Legislature.[5]

At 3:00 P.M. the House took a recess.


At 6 o’clock P.M. the President again took the chair and business was resumed.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne introduced a bill (No. 3) providing for the organisation of a military force.


An Act Providing for a Military Force.

Whereas it is considered necessary for the protection of life and property in this country, to have an organised force to support law and ensure order,— Be it therefore enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia:

1. That a body of fifty men be recruited from the different sections of the country, and that this body of men be regularly organised and retained at Fort Garry for the service of the Executive; that each man so recruited and organised, shall receive a monthly payment of Three Pounds Sterling, and his Board, as compensation; and that the term of each man’s service shall be for two months.[6]

With the permission of the House (specially given) this bill passed through all its stages.

At 9 o’clock P.M. the House adjourned till one o’clock the following day.


Next page: Session 1, Day 9: 25 March

[1] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 23; “Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia,” New Nation (8 April 1870), 1.

[2] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 7; see also AM, MG A1-20, Bill No. 1. 1st Session. 1st Parliament. Respecting the Hay Privilege. 1870; and “Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia,” New Nation (8 April 1870), 1.

[3] “President’s Speech On the Hay Privilege,” New Nation (29 April 1870), 2, notes that “The following speech of the President on the Hay Privilege question, was inadvertently omitted in our report at the proper time.” Presumably this was the occasion on which it was made. See Riel, “Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia. Second Session,” New Nation (29 April 1870), 2, and his observation that although a report was previously published of these proceedings, his remarks had not been included.

[4] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 7.

[5] “Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia,” New Nation (8 April 1870), 1. Due to a typesetting error, the text of the bill is interrupted by several paragraphs before resuming further down the page.

[6] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 9; see also AM, MG A1-19, Bill No. 3, 1st Session. 1st Parliament. For Organization of Military Force. 1870.


Published 6 July 2011


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