1870 - (12 May) Manitoba Act

The government of John A. Macdonald, anxious to deflate the combative rhetoric of French-English relations created by Louis Riel's execution of the Orangeman Thomas Scott, negotiated terms of annexation with Riel's provisional government in the spring of 1870. The legislation created the province of Manitoba, a small patch of land amounting to 11,000 square miles; guaranteed language rights in the new province; and safeguarded the Catholic faith of the Métis with the establishment of a separate school system. Some 1.4 million acres of land were set aside for the descendants of the Métis.

Manitoba became Canada's 5th province on 15 July 1870.

Map of Canada showing 5 provinces, 1870

Canada, 1870

Canada, 1870, showing the original size of Manitoba (MB) when it joined Confederation on 15 July 1870
Chinook Multimedia, Paul Hackett

Drawing of Fort Garry, 1870

Drawing of Fort Garry, 1870

Chinook Multimedia, Machray, Robert. "Life of Archbishop Machray". Toronto: MacMillan & Co., 1909.
The Manitoba Act was a significant achievement for the Métis and for their leader, Louis Riel, who had successfully pressed the Canadian government to recognize the distinctiveness of their community and to accommodate the unique features of their culture within the folds of Canadian pluralism. The legislation would not prove strong enough to protect these cultural traditions from the influx of non-Métis settlers that would soon flood the province, but the Manitoba Act provided a foundation for a pluralism in the West that would reassert itself at a later date.

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Chinook Multimedia


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