Compiled by Amelia Healey, GRASAC Research Assistant
The Rice Lake Treaty, or Treaty 20, was made between the Michi Sagiig near Rice Lake (contemporary Hiawatha First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, and the Mississauga of Scugog Island) and colonial government of Upper Canada. On November 5, 1818, Michi Saagiig leaders and colonial officials met near Smith’s Creek, in current-day Port Hope, to negotiate and sign the treaty. Treaty 20 outlines the surrender of 1,951,000 acres of land (encompassing regions such as Lindsay and Peterborough) in exchange for an annual payment of £740 in goods “at the Montreal price” in perpetuity. After the treaty was signed, the signatories met again to adjust the annual payments, changing them to £10 in goods for each adult and child.
The Michi Saagiig leaders surrendered the land directly to the Crown in a public council, following protocol rooted in the 1763 Royal Proclamation and the 1764 Treaty of Niagara. These legal documents and agreements confirmed that settlers could not use land without a collectively negotiated treaty. Despite this, Anishinaabe Peoples in then-Upper Canada experienced frequent settler encroachment on their unceded land. The Anishinaabeg in Upper Canada experienced hardship with infectious diseases, the colonization of hunting and fishing grounds, and increasing colonial policies and practices, particularly after the War of 1812 and Canadian Confederation in 1867.
Upper Canada sought to secure more land to settle British immigrants following the War of 1812, when the settler population of the province increased from 95,000 in 1814, to 186,488 in 1828. In need of essential resources, other Anishinaabe Peoples signed treaties with the Crown in 1818 as well, including the Chippewas of Lake Simcoe (Treaty 18) and the Mississaugas of the Credit (Treaty 19).
- November 5, 1818
- A council meeting for the treaty took place at Smith’s Creek, in the Township of Hope, on November 5, 1818.
- The treaty relates to 1,951,000 acres of land that include the current-day municipality of Kawartha Lakes and the city of Peterborough.
Nations and Representatives
- The Treaty 20 document lists the Michi Saagiig representatives as “Buckquaquet, Chief of the Eagle Tribe; Pishikinse, Chief of the Rein Deer Tribe; Pahtosh, Chief of the Crane Tribe; Cahgogewin of the Snake Tribe; Cahgahkishinse, Chief of the Pike Tribe; Cahgagewin, of the Snake Tribe; and Pininse, of the White Oak Tribe.”
- Represented by William Claus, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs. Additional attendees included William Hands, Clerk Indian Department, William Gruet, Interpreter for the Indian Department.
- 1,951,000 acres of Michi Saagiig land.
- Annual payment of £740 in goods “at the Montreal price” in perpetuity.
- 5 November 1818, Lake Simcoe to Rice Lake Surrender, Library and Archives Canada, Indian Affairs, D-10a, Series A, Volume 1842, Reel T-9938, GAD REF IT 061, http://grasac.org/gks (heritage item id no. 2621).
- None identified yet.
- Rice Lake Treaty, Treaty 20 Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. “Treaty Texts – Upper Canada Land Surrenders.” June 4, 2013, https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1370372152585/1581293792285#ucls18.
- “Minutes of a Council held at Smiths Creek,” November 5, 1818, C-13499, 7029-7032. https://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_c13499/528.
- Letter from William Claus to Major Bowles, November 10, 1818, C-13339, 29439-29441, https://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_c13339/1346.
- Letter from William Claus to Major Hillier, November 13, 1818, C-13498, 140, https://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_c13498/155.
- Miller, J. R. Compact, Contract, Covenant: Aboriginal Treaty-Making in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009. Pg 95-104.
- Morin, Jean-Pierre. Solemn Words and Foundational Documents: An Annotated Discussion of Indigenous-Crown Treaties in Canada, 1752-1923. Toronto; Buffalo; London: University of Toronto Press, 2018. Pg 75-98.
- Surtees, Robert J. “Indian Land Surrenders.” Treaties and Historical Research Centre: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, February 1984. Pg 70-73.
- Thoms, J. Michael. “Ojibwa Fishing Grounds: A History of Ontario Fisheries Law, Science, and the Sportsmen’s Challenge to Aboriginal Treaty Rights, 1650-1900.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2004. Pg 142-145.
- Trent U. “Learn about the history of the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg treaties.” October 22, 2021.
- ONgov. “Indigenous Voices on Treaties – Doug Williams.” November 2, 2020.
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