Demographic information about the Red River Settlement during the Resistance of 1869–1870 can be inferred from a census undertaken shortly after the creation of Manitoba. Lieutenant-Governor Adams George Archibald undertook the census “to ascertain the number of persons who come within the designation of ‘Families of half-breeds’.”[i]

Individuals who lived at Red River Settlement and were “descended however remotely, either by father or mother, from any ancestor belonging to any one of the native tribes of Indians, and also descended, however remotely, from an ancestor among the Whites,” were identified as “Halfbreed” on English language census forms and as “Métis” on French language forms.[ii]

The census was begun in October of 1870. The settlement was divided into five census districts. A team of enumerators — consisting of one person fluent and literate in the French language, and one person fluent and literate in English — was assigned to each district. Of the ten enumerators, eight were Métis. The enumerators of each team worked independently and their results were compared on completion. Their work was done by 23 December 1870. The double enumeration generated very similar tabulations. Lieutenant-Governor Archibald was satisfied with its “accuracy and impartiality.”[iii]

 

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Hon. Adams George Archibald

[i] Instructions to be observed by the Enumerators,” Manitoban and North-West Herald (22 October 1870); Archives of Manitoba [AM], MG2 B3, Council of Assiniboia fonds, Red River and Manitoba census returns, 1870, document 3, “Instructions To be observed by the enumerators appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor, to take the Enumeration of the Province of Manitoba/Instructions que devront observer les Enumerators appointes par le lieutenant-Governor de manitoba,” 1870; and “Fort Garry, October 13th, 1870,” Canada Gazette, Sessional Papers 20 (I871), 74.

[ii] Norma Jean Hall, with Clifford P. Hall, and Erin Verrier, A History of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia/ le Conseil du Governement Provisoire (Province of Manitoba and Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs, 2010), http://www.gov.mb.ca/ana/major-initiatives/pubs/metis_policy_en.pdf (accessed 3 February 2012), 1; and ibid.

[iii] D.N. Sprague, Canada and the Metis, 1869–1885 (Waterloo ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1988), 75. Manitoban [and Northwest Herald] (15 October 1870), includes: a list of districts for census-taking along with a list of the enumerators for each district. Joseph Dubuc and Charles Robert Begg were the only non-Métis enumerators.  See also “Métis Scrip Records,” Library and Archives Canada, http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/metis-scrip/005005-3100-e.html; H. Douglas Kemp, “Land Grants Under the Manitoba Act,” MHS Transactions ser. 3, no. 9 (1952 – 1953 season), http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/landgrants.shtml (accessed 17 February 2013). Archibald’s breakdown of the results was published in Canada, Parliament, Sessional Papers of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada, vol. 5 (C. H. Parmelee, 1871), 93 – 95. See also Sir John A. Macdonald, quoted in Canada, Parliament, House of Commons, Debates: Official Report, vol. 4 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1885), 3112, who described the 1870 census as “carefully compiled.” Nevertheless, the census was subsequently rejected in Ottawa, as “crude” and marked by inaccuracies that did not fit it to its primary purpose — the distribution of land.