Crown-directed Colonization of six Nations and Métis land Reserves in Canada
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This study focuses upon contact between British-Canadian, Aboriginal and Mennonite colonists' systems of property. Both Aboriginal peoples and Mennonites sought to maintain within the British-Canadian state their own areas of civil jurisdiction, including distinct property systems. They gained de facto civil autonomy at first, but eventually the British-Canadian state presumed to define their property rights according to British-Canadian law. Aboriginal peoples' property rights, secured by promises from the Crown, gradually were incorporated into the British-Canadian property system as usufructuary interests which could be converted into fee simple estates only at the discretion of the Crown. Mennonite property rights, derived from Crown grants, immediately were incorporated into the British-Canadian property system as fee simple estates which were enforceable against all parties including the Crown. The systematic enforcement of British (later Canadian) property rights, against competing Aboriginal property rights, ultimately led, by 1848, to the dislocation in Upper Canada (today's Ontario) of the Six Nations from the Grand River Valley; and in what is now southern Manitoba, to the dislocation of Métis people from the Red River Valley by 1878. The provincial governors/lieutenant-governors ensured that Aboriginal peoples' dislocation occurred without resort to the degree of bloody armed conflict that characterized Aboriginal-newcomer relations in the American Northwest. So long as the Six Nations in Upper Canada and the Métis people in Red River/Manitoba held the balance of military power, provincial gave governors/lieutenant-governors recognized Aboriginal property rights secured by prior agreements. The Six Nations and Métis people consequently exercised their military power consistently in favour of the Crown because they believed that their interests could best be promoted by enforcing prior agreements through this channel. Thus, at every flashpoint in the periods under investigation--whenever they might have united with newcomers in opposing imperial/dominion control of the administration of "Crown" lands--the Six Nations and Métis people forestalled such action and prevented an American-style revolution from taking place in Canada.