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Struggle Of 1885 Essay

1702 words - 7 pages

It is illogical to attempt to ‘reap’ what you do not ‘sow.’ However, from 1870 to 1885, many Canadians thought this was a legitimate frame of mind in handling affairs with groups in the North-West. Their selfishness, to them, was sanctified. Sanctified because a push for the formation of Canada overshadowed and overruled each stage in a long, unfriendly struggle. In his article, “Causes of the 1885 Struggle,” Howard clarifies that giving the label, “Riel rebellion,” to these struggles, is a misleading and inappropriate title. He states that Riel was not alone in the unravelling of the events that took place in 1885. From this, Howard identifies the 1885 “hostilities” as a class manifested turning-point in Canada’s movement politically and socially: towards capitalism, modern agriculture and industrialism.
In the 1870s, aside from Manitoba, the remainder of the North-West was wholly without any form of government. This meant that nominal control was in the hands of Manitoba’s lieutenant-governor until 1873: after-which he was given an appointed council to help out. One of the most notable actions made by the lieutenant-governor, and his council in 1873 was the creation of the NWMP (North-West Mounted Police). It was not until after the North-West Territories act of 1875 that the North-West Territories received their own, exclusive, lieutenant-governor. Still, without their own judicial and police force, primary power laid in the hands of Ottawa: who had the ability to disallow any locally driven ordinances. The Metis people remained relatively independent and politically involved, organizing their own local government by 1875, despite the pseudo-federal administration imposed on the North-West. However, it was all groups within the North-West who experienced discontent: “white” settlers, First Nations and Metis. Discontent that was derived from economic issues. The circumstances would have been incredibly frustrating for anyone; the cost of goods was sufficiently higher than in the east, forcing some people to live on credit. It was this financial turmoil coupled with the increasingly authoritarian leadership of lieutenant-governor Dewdney that created a peak economic crisis by 1884. The people of the North-West were discouraged to a place of being voiceless victims. Suffering that only accelerated embittered hostility through multiple devaluing circumstances.
Many different groups supported the North-West struggle against corruption. The bond of oppression meant petitions for improvement related to all groups. It seemed that no matter what though, local desires were not important to Ottawa. Eventually “white” settlers became insistent for a responsible government throughout the North-West, making four basic demands: lower the tariff rates, cancel the CRP monopoly, give the North-West provincial status, and construct a railway to Hudson Bay. Emerging from this population, William Henry Jackson, Charles Adams, Thomas Scott...

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