The Blackfeet Treaty – Report from correspondence in The Globe newspaper
Fort Mcleod, October 4, 1877.
The treaty with the Blackfeet nation has been concluded satisfactorily, and was signed by the Chiefs of the Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan and Sarcee tribes, in the presence of the Commissioners–Governor Laird and Col. McLeod, C.M.G., and of Major Irvine, Assistant Commissioner, North-West Mounted Police, and officers of the Police Force, at the Council House, near “Ridge under the Water,” or “The Blackfoot Crossing” the Great Bow River, on the 22nd September last.
On the morning of the 4th of September, Col. McLeod received information from the ubiquitous Indian that the Queen’s father (Lieut.-Gov. Laird) was at Little Bow River, thirty miles north from McLeod, and was accompanied by the “Buffalo Bull” (Major Irvine), and that they would arrive before the sun sank below the western horizon. At three p.m. the Commissioner left Fort McLeod, accompanied by a guard of honor of one hundred mounted men, to meet and escort the representative of Vice-Royalty to the first white settlement in the Blackfeet country. The Governor was met three miles north of Willow Creek, and expressed his surprise and pleasure at the splendid appearance of the well-mounted, well-equipped, well-drilled body of men who formed the guard of honour. When the head of the column forming the escort wound round the bend of Willow Creek, and the extensive wooded valley on which McLeod is built appeared in view, the guns, which had been unlimbered and placed in position on the highest of the bluffs which girdle the north side of Old Man’s River, fired a salute of thirteen guns. On the arrival of the cortege at the upper or south end of the village, the police band took the lead and welcomed the Governor with its lively music. The whole white, Half-breed and Indian population of McLeod turned out to obtain a view of the great man who had arrived. At the request of the leading inhabitants of McLeod the carriage of the Governor was halted in the centre of the village, and the following neatly worded address was read and presented to His Honor by Mr. John C. Bell:
To The Honorable David Laird, Lieutenant Governor, N.-W. T.
We, the citizens of Fort McLeod, beg to welcome you to this little village, one of the pioneer settlements of this great North-West.
To have so distinguished a visitor in our midst is an honor we all appreciate, as in that visit we feel an assurance of your interest in our welfare and prosperity, which had its dawn with the advent of the Mounted Police in the North-West, and which, through their vigilance and care, has continued to this time.
We trust that your visit here will be as pleasant to you as it will be long remembered by us.
Chas. E. Conrad,
Thomas J. Bogy,
Lionel E. Manning,
John C. Bell.
To which the Governor replied–
GENTLEMEN,–I thank you for your kind address, and for the hearty welcome you have extended to me on my first visit to this pioneer settlement of the Canadian North-West. After roughing it for the last twenty-four days on the broad unsettled prairies, you have surprised me by a reception which betokens all the elements of civilization.
It affords me unfeigned pleasure to learn that the advent of the Mounted Police in this country has been fraught with such advantages to you as a community.
Permit me to express the conviction that in return for that diligence and care on the part of the Police Force which you so highly and justly value, you will always be found conducting yourselves as becomes worthy subjects of that illustrious Sovereign whom I have the distinguished honour to represent in these territories.
In conclusion, I would remark that you have taken me so unexpectedly by your address that I feel unequal to making an appropriate reply; but the agreeableness of the surprise will tend to heighten the pleasure of my visit, as well as to render abiding the interest which I undoubtedly feel in your welfare and prosperity.
During his stay at Fort McLeod, which extended to the 14th of the month, the Lieutenant Governor reviewed the garrison, which consisted of troops C and D, and two divisions of artillery. They deployed past at a walk, trot and gallop, and His Honor expressed his unqualified admiration of the splendid form of the men. He was especially pleased with the artillery, whose horses and equipments were in beautiful condition, and requested Col. McLeod to convey to the officers and men his surprise and pleasure at finding the force at this post so perfectly drilled and acquainted with their duties.
On the 12th the two troops and the artillery, accompanied by a baggage train of six light wagons, left Fort McLeod en route for the scene of the treaty. The Commissioner took command of the detachment, and the Assistant Commissioner remained behind to accompany the Governor on the 14th.
The force accomplished the march in three days, and pitched the tents on ground previously laid out for the encampment by Inspector Crozier, at the head of a magnificently wooded valley, of about a mile in width and extending for several miles along the Big Bow. It is a lovely spot, this “Ridge under the Water,” and has always been a favorite camping ground of the Blackfeet nation.