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Canada would go through a significant change in 1870 with the arrival of its newest province on May 12 thanks to the Manitoba Act. This Act received royal assent on that day to establish a portion fo Rupert’s Land as Manitoba. The road to Manitoba becoming a province began in 1869 with the Red River Resistance or Rebellion, which we covered in the previous episode of Canada Year-By-Year. Since the Metis were a main reason for the Manitoba Act, they had several requests for the federal government.
Some of the things they requested included:
·That the people of the new province have the right to elect their own legislature.
·All members of authority are to be elected by the people of Manitoba.
·Land must be set aside for the building of schools, roads, bridges and other buildings.
·The Dominion must pay for the territory’s military and municipal expenses for four years.
·The military must be built up by people who already live in the territory.
·All public documents must be published in French and English.
·The superior judge must be bilingual.
The Act would set aside land for the Metis, totalling 5,600 square-kilometres, and laws would be written in both French and English. The Act also gave religious and language rights, and allowed for four members from the province to represent the area in the House of Commons, along with two members for the Senate of Canada.
From June to July, New Brunswick went through an election for its premier and ruling party. This was the first election for the province since the creation of Canada and there were no party labels at this point. The government, which was based on a loose coalition of Conservatives and Liberals, was led by George Edwin King, who took over from Andrew Rainsford Wetmore after he had resigned. King would resign three days into the Legislative session and a new government was formed by George Luther Hathaway, an opposition MLA and King would become the attorney-general of the province.
On July 3, R.B. Bennett would be born in Hopewell Hill, New Brunswick. After spending time as a lawyer and as an MLA in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, he would be elected to the House of Commons in 1911. From 1927 to 1938, he would lead the Conservative Party of Canada, and serve as Canada’s 11th Prime Minister from 1930 to 1935. While many see his time as prime minister as a failure due to his inability to mitigate the impact of The Great Depression on citizens, he did help form the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Bank of Canada.
On July 15, the British Privy Council’s Rupert’s Land and North-Western Territory Order officially transfers the land to Canada that will form the North-West Territories and Manitoba.
On July 29, George Dixon was born in Africville, Halifax. He would become the first ever person of African-descent to win a World Championship in any sport, and also become the first-ever Canadian born boxing champion. Following his early death in 1908, he would be named the #1 featherweight boxer in history, be inducted to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2018, he was named one of the greatest 15 athletes, coming in sixth, in Nova Scotia’s history.
On Sept.16, Alfred Boyd would become the first premier of Manitoba. There had been no election and he was not recognized by the title at the time, nor was he the leader of the government for the province. He was more of a provincial secretary of Manitoba, or Chief Minister. He had lived in the area since 1858 and was wealthy by the time of the Red River Rebellion. Following the upcoming provincial election, he would become the Minister of Public Works.
On Oct. 16, Wallace Turnbull was born, and he would go into aviation as an adult, building the first wind tunnel in Canada. He would spend his life researching the stability of aircraft and looking at new forms of airfoils. He designed several propellers and would have a lasting effect on aeronautical engineering. Following his death in 1954, he would be inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.
Harlan Brewster was born in Harvey, New Brunswick on Nov. 10 and would move to British Columbia at the age of 23 where he had several careers. He would eventually be elected to the B.C. Legislature in 1907 and serve as premier of the province from 1916 to 1918. During that time, he would bring in women’s suffrage, institute prohibition and combat corruption before his sudden death in 1918.
On Dec. 23, Theo Abraham Hamel would pass away at the age of 53. Spending his life as a painter, the Quebec-born Hamel would travel throughout Canada East and Canada West, painting portraits of prominent individuals . He would also paint religious pictures and imaginative portraits of Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, Jean Talon and General James Murray. His image of Cartier would eventually appear on a banknote. Over his life, he painted 2,000 portraits. His painting of Sir Allan MacNab, painted in 1853, currently hangs in the House of Commons of Canada.
The first official election for Manitoba would be held on Dec. 27. Like with New Brunswick, there were not really any provincial parties so former Lt. Governor Adams George Archibald would govern a coalition that received 17 seats, while John Christian Schultz would lead the Canadian Party with five seats. The Canadian Party demanded swift retribution for the leaders of the rebellion but failed to gain much in support. Edward Hay would become the Leader of the Opposition.