Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Aboriginal peoples

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Please note: The original book was published in 1876 and re-captured in electronic form as text and tables. The terminology used to describe the population, its economic activity and its geographic location remains unchanged. The views and opinions expressed in this volume in no way reflect the views of Statistics Canada.

Table made up from the Memoirs of 1736 and 1763


Table of the Aboriginal Population of Canada, 1871  [PDF]    [Map]


REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, 1857.


Tables of the population of the different parts of British North America

The figures given above (by the Censuses of 1871) include the aboriginal population, ascertained by the regular process of enumeration, of the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island ; but there are no regular Censuses of these populations for the portions of British North America in which they are predominant. There is no aboriginal population on the Island of Newfoundland, as the few Indian families, occasionally met with, belong to the tribes of the coast of Labrador (a part of which is annexed to Newfoundland), or to the Micmac groups of the southern coasts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

It is of importance, both in a statistical and ethnographical point of view, to establish the approximate number of the whole aboriginal race of these vast territories of British North America, of which they were the first occupants and consequently the first proprietors.

Three statements, Censuses they might be called, of the aboriginal population within certain named districts, have been mentioned in the preceding pages, the numbers having been ascertained at three different periods of the history of colonization in this country. Although incomplete, they have considerable value, inasmuch as they bear the character of the comparative exactitude which the subject admits of, and are, therefore, the numerical expression of the amount of population in a savage state which a certain extent of territory will maintain, under given circumstances, by the produce of hunting and fishing. Certain tribes mentioned cultivated maize, or Indian corn, pumpkins and beans, but any one studying the conditions of such cultivation described in the writings of missionaries and discoverers, will see at once that these resources, in the best yielding seasons, could not dispense with having recourse to hunting and fishing ; and, besides, that this cultivation would only take place where the sea fishing of the maritime coasts, or where the hunting ground was wanting in extent or products.

Most of the estimates of the aboriginal population made by both ancient and modern writers, from information given by Indians themselves, or by travellers and traders, are full of exaggeration, which has been seldom discovered by criticism, so difficult is it to realize as correct, the fact of the enormous extent of territory necessary to supply man with food by the chase.

It is thus that at and after the time of Champlain, the population of the Huron Nation was estimated at 30,000 and upwards. Champlain himself fell into this error, which he, however, corrects in a manner, by saying that that nation had only 2,000 warriors, (which means about 10,000 souls). And, in fact, a regular census made by the missionaries in 1639--that is, at the period of the greatest concentration of the Hurons--showed at that time 32 villages, 700 lodges, (among the settled Huron-Iroquois the villages were composed of arched lodges serving for a greater or lesser number of families), 2,000 fires, 12,000 persons. (Relation de 1640, page 62).

It should be mentioned that the Hurons cultivated the soil, fished in Lake Huron, and hunted over a certain extent of uninhabited woods to the east of their settled grounds.

The war of extermination which was waged among the different tribes of the Huron-Iroquois race, inhabiting the villages around Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and vicinity, caused the almost complete extinction of the Hurons in 1648 and 1649, and reduced the numbers of the other tribes to such a point that the confederation of the five Iroquois nations, the most powerful aboriginal organization known, amounted, in 1665 and 1677, notwithstanding the annexions of the remainder of other tribes to only a few thousand souls.

The population of the five nations was regularly ascertained in 1665 by the Jesuit Missionaries, and in 1677 by Wentworth Greenhalgh, in a tour of investigation for that purpose made on account of the British Government. The summary of these two enumerations may be found, the first in the Relation of 1665, pages 10 and 11, the second in the London Archives.

In 1665, the Anniegués (Mohawks) counted 400 warriors ; the Onneyouts (Oneidas) 140 warriors ; the Onnontagués (Onondagas) 300 warriors ; Oïogouens (Cayugas) 300 warriors ; and the Sonnontouans (Senecas) 1,200 warriors ; in all 2,340 warriors, or 11,700 souls.

The enumeration of 1677 is thus summarized : Maquaes (Mohawks) 5 villages, 96 lodges, 300 warriors ; Onyades (Oneidas) 1 village, 100 lodges, 200 warriors ; Onondagos, 2 villages, 164 lodges, 350 warriors ; Caïougos (Cayugas) 3 villages, 100 lodges, 300 warriors ; Senecques (Senecas) 4 villages, 324 lodges, 1,000 warriors ; in all 2,150 warriors, or about 10,750 souls.

Before examining the three most important documents we possess relative to the aboriginal population of old, it may be interesting to add a document bearing every mark of exactitude. The document relates to the year 1745 and is among the Paris Archives. The missionaries, the Abbé Laloutre and Abbé Maillard, and Fathers Lacorne and De l'Estage, give an account of the Micmacs, of whom they ascertained the existence in Acadia (Nova Scotia), of 200 families ; in Isle Royale (Cape Breton), 80 families ; in Miramichi, 195 families, and in Restigouche, 60 families ; in all 535 families, or about 2,407 souls. Among the Indians the mean is about 4.5 individuals to each family, and as the number of men fit to bear arms is a little greater than that of the families, the number of warriors is multiplied by 5 and if the families by 4 1/2 to arrive at the population. It is at those rates, that, when needed, the population is calculated in the following pages.

The broad facts which spring from the examination of the conditions of the savage state in this country, are :

  1. That the most fertile soils are not those which, in general, yield most support to those engaged in hunting ; that the fisheries, and specially on the maritime coast, are the most abundant of the natural sources of supply found by man in a savage state. It is the Indians most favourably situated in respect to soil and climate, who supplement the food obtained by hunting and fishing, by cultivation. On the other hand the Esquimaux, whose territory is restricted to the waste and desolate shores of the frozen sea, manage to derive a rough abundance from the icebound waters ;
  2. That Indian populations living exclusively by hunting and fishing, cannot increase beyond certain very restricted limits, governed by the ratio between the number of inhabitants and the superficies inhabited. Below this ratio they descend periodically by famine, disease, or war, oscillating in this way, between an almost determinable maximum (the circumstances being known) and an indeterminable minimum. The mildness of the climate has a great bearing on this question, if not in actually adding to the natural resources, at least in lessening the wants ;
  3. That Indian populations, keeping to the habits of hunting tribes, diminish in number in the ratio of the extent and frequency of their relations with civilized nations, by the destruction of their primitive means of existence, and the introduction of vices and diseases, or by absorption, in the creation of a half breed race.

To decide as to the greater or less value of the figures given respecting the Indian population of a territorial division, in the absence of a regular Census, these elements of criticism must be taken into account.

The first of the statements of Indian population referred to, dates from 1611. It was prepared by a Jesuit missionary, and inserted in the Relation of that year, being the first of this series of admirable letters which constitute the most valuable source of information for the history of the early days of Canadian colonization.

The country inhabited by the tribes mentioned in that Relation, who all belonged to the great Algonquin family, afforded good hunting and superior fishing. The Souriquois (the Micmacs of the present day) inhabited what now constitutes the Provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the littoral of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the Provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec, and the eastern watersheds of that region. They were about 3,500, and their territory then covered a superficies of about 45,000 square miles (English).

The Etaminquois (now the Maléchites) occupied the whole valley of the St. John River in New Brunswick and part of the State of Maine, extending into and including all the interior, as far as the River St. Lawrence, taking in that part of the valley of the St. Lawrence which fronts on the course of the St. John River and tributaries. They numbered about 2,500, and their territory covered, then, a superficies equal to about 40,000 square miles ; but their maritime fisheries were less extensive than those of the Souriquois.

The Kenibéquis (now the Abenakis) occupied part of the States of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, the States of Massachusetts and Connecticut and all the southern valley of the St. Lawrence, from the River Chaudière to the Iroquois territory, and even hunted on the littoral of the north shore of the St. Lawrence ; they numbered 3,000, and their territory covered a superficies of about 55,000 square English miles. Their coast fishing, although of great value, was much less important than those of the Souriquois and Etaminquois.

The Montagnets belonged to the Abenakis family, and their hunting grounds were in the mountainous parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, and in that part of the Province of Quebec now known as the Eastern Townships, and the District of Beauce. They numbered 1,000 souls, and occupied about 20,000 square miles of country, but without fisheries. We have, then, in a country containing one of the most abundant hunting and fishing grounds, and which is, therefore, one of the most suitable to support a savage population, during a period of prosperity and in an age in which no foreign influence had come to disturb the primitive condition of these tribes, 10,000 inhabitants occupying about 160,000 square miles of territory, being one inhabitant to 16 square miles, or 41 square kilomètres. And for the Souriquois, separately, one inhabitant for about 12 square miles, or about 31 square kilomètres.

The two other statements of Indian population, given above, relate to the years 1736 and 1763. The first is a memoir deposited in the Paris Archives, written by an officer of the French Government, whose name is not given ; the second is by Sir William Johnson, and forms part of the English documents entitled, Plantations General Papers.

It is very interesting to compare these two estimates of the number of Indians, made in respect to the same tribes and the same territories at an interval of more than a quarter of a century. We give the summarized table of the information contained in these two memoirs, grouped in such a way as to admit of comparison. Both memoirs give only the number of warriors, that is, about the fifth of the population, which may thus be determined, in round numbers, as 79,375 souls, according to the French, and fifty-nine thousand nine hundred according to the English memoir, or rather 78,000 by adding the enumeration of the tribes of the Illinois and of the Sioux, Assiniboines and part of the Abénakis, wanting in the English memoirs.

Table made up from the Memoirs of 1736 and 1763 on the Aboriginal population of certain territories in North America, now situated partly in the United States of America and partly in Canada.

Name of the Tribes. Designation of the Territories Inhabited.

1736.

1763.

Number of Warriors. Population. Number of Warriors. Population.
CANADA.
Abenakis (comprising evidently a portion of the Malechites). St. John River, (New Brunswick), Becancour and St. Francis, Eastern Townships (Province of Quebec).
5901
2,950
1002
500
Algonquins, Ottawas, Potowatamis, Sauteux, Crees, and other related tribes Valley of the Ottawa, Valley and Islands of Lake Huron, North of Lake Superior, Valley of the Kaministikwia River and from thence to the Rainy Lake, Red River and Swan River Districts
2,295
11,475
4,1303
20,650
Hurons Lorette, near Quebec, Detroit River
260
1,300
290
1,450
Iroquois Kauknawaga, Lake of Two Mountains, St. Regis
370
1,850
360
1,800
UNITED STATES.
Iroquois and adopted tribes States of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and part of the State of Maryland and of the two Virginias
1,110
5,550
2,2304
11,150
Sioux, Assinipoëls and Puants (Pole Cats) Minnesota and Dakota
2,530
12,650
... 5
... 
Illinois and affiliated tribes Illinois
600
3,000
... 6
... 
Kiwanaws, Ottawas, Sauteux, Potawatamis, Iowas, Folle-Avoines, Foxes, Kikapoos, Maskoutins, Cherokees, Chicakas, Miamis, Chawanons and other related tribes Michigan, Indiana, part of the two Virginias, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin
8,120
40,600
4,8707
24,350
  Total
15,875
79,375
11,980
59,900
  Adding to the English memoir the population omitted therefrom
... 
79,375
... 
78,000

1 The French memoir mentions that the Abenakis and Mohicans (les Loups) reckon 600 warriors (3,000 souls) from Boston to Virginia, but this section of the nation is not included in the enumeration
2 Sir William Johnson's memoir says that his report is incomplete as regards the Abenakis ; mention is only made in it of the St. Francis Indians.
3 The increase was caused by the immigration of the Algonquin races to Canada from the United States, of the Ottawas, Potowatamis, Sauteux, &c., &c., from Lake Huron as far as the limits of Swan River District, North West.
4 The increase of the Iroquois was caused by the adoption and incorporation of tribes.
5 The English memoir says that the census of these tribes could not be made.
6 The English memoir says that the census of these tribes could not be made.
7 This enormous decrease was caused by the atrocious wars waged by these nations, confined within too narrow limits, the massacres producing an excess of deaths over births ; together with the Emigration to Canada and the adoption of small tribes into the Iroquois Confederation ; (see notes 3 and 4). Thus the Algonquin races of Canada increased by 9,175 souls, the Hurons by 150, and the Iroquois of the United States by 5,600, whilst the numerous tribes last mentioned have decreased by 16,250. The Iroquois of Canada appear to have suffered a diminution of 50 during the same period.


In order to compare these two memoirs, there must first be added to the sum contained in the English memoir, the numbers representing the clans not enumerated in it, namely : The Abenakis of the St. John River, 490 warriors; the Illinois, 600 warriors, and the Sioux-Assiniboines, 2,530 warriors ; in all, 3,620 warriors, representing a population of about 18,100 souls. Adding this number to the total amount of 59,900 for the year 1763, there is shown a total of 78,000, as against 79,375 for the year 1736, or a decrease of 1,375 on the whole of this population.

The superficies occupied by these tribes is the same for both periods, about 1,000,000 square miles (2,590,000 kilomètres) for that part of the population situated in the United States ; including the States and territories mentioned in the Table. The aboriginal population of this territory numbering, by the complete memoir, 61,800 in 1736, gives 1 inhabitant for each 16 square miles ; but very unequally distributed, varying between a minimum of 14 miles and a maximum of 28 miles per head ; and for the portion of the territory situated on the Canadian side composed of localities enumerated in the Table, in all nearly 650,000 square miles (1,683,000 kilomètres) the aboriginal population, which in 1736 was 17,575 souls, gives about one inhabitant to each 37 square miles. From 1736 to 1763 the aboriginal population mentioned in the two memoirs had, as a whole, undergone a total diminution of upwards of 1,375 souls. But it must be remarked that this diminution (as well as the changes to lesser numbers caused by migrations) took place in the most densely populated territory, (where the hunting grounds were 14 miles square per head). The population on the Canadian side, hunting over 37 square miles per head, increased by about 9,275 souls during that interval, while the other, on the American side, taken as a whole, had lost 10,650. In the United States again the tribes who cultivated the land and were possessed of 28 miles per head of hunting ground, have increased when the others diminished. The increase on the Canadian side is due principally to the immigration from the United States ; for it is a fact, ascertained since the North American tribes have been known, that they, in the long run, and taken as a whole, remain stationary, in point of population, when they do not diminish. The immigration took place in consequence of the territories on the Canadian side having been depopulated by the wars of extermination of the preceding period.

By the Census of 1871, an exact enumeration has for the first time been made of the aboriginal population within the limits of the Province of Prince Edward Island (323), of Nova Scotia (1,666), of New Brunswick (1,403), of Quebec (6,988), and of Ontario (12,978), showing a total for these five Provinces of 23,358.

However, as the Census has recorded this population only by localities and not by tribes, it has been thought desirable to supply this deficiency, and at the same time to try to establish the number of the indigenous population throughout the whole extent of the British possessions in North America, together with the approximate extent of the superficies inhabited by each of the tribes, or groups of tribes ; the result of which will be found summarized in the Table which follows. The information has been drawn from the Census of 1871, from the writings and notes of the missionaries ; from reports, works and memoirs published at different periods, and from details received, viva voce, from persons who have been in intimate relations with these clans. The part of the indigenous population, of which the least is known, is that in British Columbia. For this reason, as is usual in such cases, their numbers have almost always been exaggerated. These tribes belong exclusively to the Dénè race and have been classified according to the excellent division made by Dr. Latham. (The Natural History of the Varieties of Man). The part which is now best known, outside of the limits of the older Provinces, is that on the territory of the Athabaska-Mackenzie, thanks to the admirable paper published in 1874 by the Reverend Father Petitot, Oblat missionary.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the names given to the indigenous tribes and sub-tribes of North America, nor the languages that have been counted out of dialects of the same mother tongues, very frequently the same small groups of nomads have had different names bestowed on them, from their having been encountered in different places by different travellers. The names given in the following Table are those sanctioned by history or by the authority of ethnographers to mark the distinct groups ; there are added to each, letters indicating the race to which the tribe belongs.

All the aboriginal families of British America are divided into four races. These four races are : 1. That of the Esquimaux, or Innok (plural Innoït). 2. That called the Dénè-Dindjié. 3. That of the Algonquins, or the Algic race. 4. That of the Huron-Iroquois.

In the following Table, letters are placed after the names of the tribes, to indicate to which of the four great races each tribe belongs ; AL. For the Algonquin race ; H. I. For the Huron-Iroquois race ; D. D. for the Dénè-Dindjié race ; IN. for the Esquimaux race. (Innok.--Innoït.)

The word villagier has been made to indicate the mode of living in villages which has been adopted by several of the aboriginal tribes or sub-tribes in the settled parts of the country. These villagiers almost always engage a little in hunting and fishing, in cultivation of the land ; but most maintain themselves chiefly by the exercise of various industries, such as the dressing of skins, the making of snow shoes, mocassins and fancy articles prepared by the women. In certain places the men work in the lumber shanties, and serve as guides and carriers in explorations or hunting excursions. Some have become well-to-do farmers.

The small Map which accompanies this Table is given to enable the reader to easily form an idea of the territory occupied by each aboriginal group, of the relative extent of the hunting grounds and of their situation as to the maritime shores or fisheries of the interior. The figures of reference pertain alike to the Table and the map.

It is scarcely necessary to say that the hunting grounds of each Indian tribe are not actually marked off by precise and invariable limits, like those which divide the Provinces of an organized country from one another, and that, therefore, the figures, beyond those taken from the Census of 1871, are only approximate. As to the calculations of the superficies, they have, in common with the rest of the work, been very carefully made, and it is confidently believed they do not yield in point of exactitude to the estimates made from time to time (which all necessarily vary) of the superficies of the unsurveyed regions of the American continent. From the total superficies, shown in the Table by tribal occupancy, and given in detail hereafter, for each Province, the bays and the great estuaries have been eliminated. Newfoundland and Anticosti, which have no aboriginal population, are not included in the superficies of the Table, but are afterwards mentioned ; Newfoundland separately, Anticosti in the superficies of Quebec.

Table of the Aboriginal Population of Canada, with the Superficies in square miles of the hunting and fishing grounds occupied by the different tribes, the whole referring to the year 1871. [PDF]    [Map]

Name of Tribes. Description of Places inhabited.

Popula-
tion.

Territorial Superficies in English
square miles.

1-The Esquimaux, IN Littoral of the North Sea, from Labrador to Alaska, the northern shores and islands of Hudson's Bay, with the islands of the Arctic Ocean.
4,000
600,000
2-The Naskapis, AL Interior of Labrador, South-East Watersheds of Labrador, Rupert's Land to the East of Hudson's Bay, and the Mistassin Country.
2,500
330,000
3-The Montagnais, AL North shore of the Gulf and mouth of the St. Lawrence, valley of the Saguenay River. (These Indians do not fish.)
1,745
115,000
4-The Micmacs, AL (Villagiers.) Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Eastern part of New Brunswick ; counties of Bonaventure, Gaspé and Rimouski, in Quebec.
3,459
56,000
5-The Maléchites, AL (Villagiers.) Valley of St. John River, in New Brunswick, counties of Temiscouata, Kamouraska and L'Islet, in Quebec.
574
24,000
6-The Hurons, H.-I (Villagiers.) Lorette, environs of Quebec, and the County of Essex, in Ontario.
356
10,000
7-The Wamontachingues, Têtes de Boules, etc., AL St. Maurice Territory.
247
29,000
8-The Abénakis, AL (Villagiers.) South of the District of Three Rivers, Eastern Townships and vicinity.
326
13,000
9-The Iroquois, H.-I Kauknawaga, Lake of Two Mountains and St. Regis, in the Province of Quebec ; several places in Ontario, and especially on the Grand River.
6,374
13,000
10-The Ottawas, various tribes, AL Different places in Quebec, Valley of the Ottawa and part of the slopes of James Bay.
3,540
103,000
11-Algonquins, Potowatamis, northern tribes, etc., AL (Partly villagiers.) Large part of Ontario, Manitoulin and other Islands ; interior north of Lake Huron to James Bay, and south of that Bay.
8,637
124,000
12-The Sauteux, Maskégons and other tribes, AL North of Lake Superior, Portages, from the Lake to beyond Manitoba, south-eastern part of the North-West Territory.
9,000
336,000
13-The Prairie Crees, AL

      The Wood Crees, AL
The regions of Lake Qu'Appelle, and of the Middle Kissiskatch'wan.
To the north, N.E. and N.W. of the preceding
5,500

3,000
247,000
14-The Sioux, Frontier Wanderers, H.-I Neighbourhood of Manitoba.
1,400
17,000
15-The Assiniboines, H.-I From the River Souris towards the North-West.
2,000
52,000
16-The Black-feet
      The Blood Indians AL
      The Piégâns
The south-western region of the North-West with part of the lands drained by the two branches of the Upper Kisiskatchiwan, to the North
4,000
1,500
2,000
126,000
17-The Sarcis, H.-I (Adopted by the Blackfeet) On the borders of the preceding.
200
6,000
18-The Western Montagnais or Chippewayans, D.D. From English River to Great Slave Lake, extending along the whole valley of the Athabaska.
5,000
195,000
19-The Cariboo Eaters, D.D. In the Steppes to the North-East of the Montagnais.
2,000
93,000
20-The Yellow Knives, D.D. To the east of Great Slave Lake, on the borders of the Cariboo Eaters.
500
72,000
21-The Dog Ribs, D.D. North of Great Slave Lake.
1,500
67,000
22-The Beavers, D.D. On Peace River.
1,000
58,000
23-The Slave Indians, D.D. (called “Strong Bows&#148 by Franklin) North-west of Great Slave Lake, on the Mackenzie and Liards Rivers.
1,200
73,000
24-The Hares, D.D. To the north of Great Bear Lake, bordering on the Esquimaux.
800
68,000
25-The Na'annès, D.D. The Mountains of the Mackenzie in the North West, and north-east corner of Columbia.
3,000
100,000
26-The Daho-Dinnis, D.D. (Mauvais-Monde) The slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Rivière aux Liards, in Columbia, extending to the north in the North-West.
1,500
57,000
27-The Loucheux, D.D. The western region of the North-West and the north-west region of British Columbia.
4,000
171,000
28-The Sekanis, D.D. Between Peace River and Rivière aux Liards, in Columbia especially, going south, as far as the sources of the Fraser River, they occupy both slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
2,500
85,000
29-The Takalis, Carriers, D.D. The interior of Columbia, from the Eastern frontier to the Upper Fraser.
2,000
57,000
30-The Kootanis, D.D. South-eastern part of Columbia.
1,000
20,000
31-The Haïdahs, D.D. (4 clans) Archipelago of Queen Charlotte's Islands and the coasts and mainland opposite.
3,000
34,000
32-The Chemmesyans, D.D. (4 clans) Islands and mainland to the south of the preceding.
1,000
12,000
33-The Billacoolas, D.D. (8 clans) The estuaries and valleys of the rivers south of the preceding.
1,500
20,000
34-The Haïltsa, D.D. (8 clans) The northern part of Vancouver, and the coasts and mainland opposite.
2,500
29,000
35-The Noutkans or Wakash, D.D. (6 clans) Vancouver and the coasts, and mainland opposite.
3,000
34,000
36-The Tsihaïli Selish, D.D. (9 clans) Southern part of Vancouver and the valley of the Fraser.
5,000
52,000
 
Total.
102,358
3,498,000

It will be seen that taking the whole of the aboriginal population of British North America, including the few tribes who live chiefly by agricultural and industrial pursuits in the settled Provinces, as well as the tribes placed in exceptionally unfavorable conditions in Arctic climates, the mean inhabited superficies is 34 square miles per head. Eliminating from the calculation these two extremes in the scale of comparison, the mean falls to about 25 square miles per head, the minimum being about 10 square miles per head ; the maximum being found in the most rigorous climates, and the minimum exclusively where there are abundant sea coast fisheries. In the best hunting grounds, with a temperate climate, in the absence of extensive fisheries and of cultivation of the soil, the increase of the Indian population to a larger number than 1 inhabitant to 15 square miles causes misery and disease, or incursions upon neighbouring territories and consequent warfare.

Sir George Simpson, in 1857, in his replies to the Special Committee of the British House of Commons appointed to enquire at that date into the affairs of the Hudson's Bay Company, again points out (Page 58 of the Report) the fact of these periodical oscillations of increase and decrease among the Indians. He points out that the tribes of the Western woods, after having been decimated by disease for several years, were at that time passing through a period of increase, whilst the prairie tribes were at the same time suffering from decrease caused by tribal wars and disease.

The information given in the preceding Table and the small chart accompanying it, may be thus summarized :

As regards races, there are upon British North American territory :

Of the Algic Race
46,028
      "       Dénè-Dindjié Race
42,000
      "       Huron-Iroquois Race
10,330
      "       Innok Race
4,000
 
102,358

As regards mode of living:

Living chiefly by Fishing, about
23,000
      "       in Camps, by Prairie Hunting, about
18,000
      "       in Villages in Settled Districts, about
17,358
      "       by Families in the Woods, about
44,000
 
102,358

As regards the general geographical division of the Continent--

West of the Rocky Mountains, about
26,000
East          "          "          "          "     
76,358
 
102,358

As regards territorial divisions--

Province of Prince Edward Island
323
          "         Nova Scotia
1,666
          "         New Brunswick
1,403
          "         Quebec
6,988
          "         Ontario
12,978
          "         Manitoba
500
          "         British Columbia
23,000
Rupert's Land
33,500
Labrador and the Arctic Watersheds
22,000
 
102,358

The testimony given to the Special Committee of the British Commons in 1857, by Sir George Simpson, who was for thirty-seven years Governor of the Hudson Bay Territories in America, has been referred to above. Sir George at the same time laid before the Committee a Memorandum prepared by the officers of the Company, as to the population of the trading country covered by their forts ; that is, the aboriginal population of 1856 in Labrador, the still unsettled northern parts of Quebec and Ontario, all Rupert's Land, the Athabaska-Mackenzie, British Columbia, the coasts and islands in Russian America bordering on British Columbia, the American territories of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and part of the territory of Montana*. As this Memorandum was furnished by the Hudson Bay Company, it possesses such importance that it is deemed desirable to reprint it here in full.

It should be remarked here that the fifteen years which have elapsed between the date of the preparation of the Hudson Bay Company's Memorandum (1856) and that to which the Table in this work refers (1871) have not produced, in fact, any notable change in the number, or mode of life of the aboriginal populations depending on hunting and fishing in the unsettled regions of British North America.


* This was in 1857. Since, the relations of the Hudson's Bay Company with the American territories have been altered. In fulfilment of the Treaty of 1863 (ratified and proclaimed in 1864), for the final settlement of the claims of the Hudson's Bay and of the Puget's Sound Agricultural Companies, the decision of the appointed Commissioners was arrived at in 1869, awarding to the Hudson's Bay Company $450,000 and to the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company $200,000 for the release and transfer of all their possessory rights and claims.



REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, 1857.

_____

(C. Appendix No. 2, pages 365,366 and 367.)

_____

" INDIAN POPULATION.

" It is a matter of great difficulty to obtain reliable information respecting the Indian population, their migratory habits, and the vast extent of country over which they are spread, misleading the calculations, and rendering it almost impracticable to prepare a satisfactory Census. The following estimates have been compiled with great care, from a mass of documents and the actual personal knowledge of several of the Company's officers, tested by comparison with published statements, especially those presented to Government in 1846 by Messrs. Warre and Vavasour, and those of Colonel Lefroy, R.A., contained in a paper read before the Canadian Institute.

_____


" ESTABLISHMENTS of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1856, and Number of Indians frequenting them.

Post. Locality. Department. District. Number of Indians frequenting it.
Fort Chipewyan Indian Territory Northern Athabasca
750
Dunvegan      
400
Vermilion      
250
Fond du Lac      
150
Fort Simpson     M'Kenzie's River
2,000
Fort aux Liards      
400
Fort Halkett      
300
Youcon      
4,000
Peel's River      
1,000
Lapierre's House      
150
Fort Good Hope      
700
Fort Rae      
600
Fort Resolution      
500
Big Island      
80
Fort Norman      
700
Isle à la Crosse Rupert's Land   English River
700
Rapid River      
250
Green Lake      
120
Deer's Lake      
250
Portage la Loche      
50
Edmonton     Saskatchewan
7,500
Carlton      
6,000
Fort Pitt      
7,000
Rocky Mountain House      
6,000
Lac la Biche      
500
Lesser Slave Lake Indian Territory    
400
Fort Assiniboine Rupert's Land    
150
Jasper's House Indian Territory    
200
Fort à la Corne Rupert's Land    
300
Cumberland House     Cumberland
350
Moose Lake      
200
The Pas      
200
Fort Pelly     Swan River
800
Fort Ellice      
500
Qu'appelle Lakes      
250
Shoal River      
150
Touchwood Hills      
300
Egg Lake      
200
Fort Garry
Lower Fort Garry
White Horse Plain
    Red River
7,000
including whites and half breeds.
Pembina      
1,000 ditto
Manitobah      
200 ditto
Reed Lake      
50
Fort Francis     Lac la Pluie
1,500
Fort Alexandre      
300
Rat Portage      
500
White Dog      
100
Lac de Bonnet      
50
Lac de Bois Blanc      
200
Shoal Lake      
200
Norway House     Norway House
500
Berens' River      
180
Nelson's River      
400
York Factory     York
300
Churchill      
400
Severn      
250
Trout Lake      
250
Oxford House      
300
Albany Factory   Southern Albany
400
Marten's Falls      
200
Osnaburg      
200
Lac Seul      
300
Matawagamingue     Kinogumissee
250
Kuckatoosh      
150
Michipicoton Canada   Lake Superior
300
Batchewana      
100
Mamainse      
50
Pic      
100
Lac Long Rupert's Land    
80
Lac Nipigon Canada    
250
Fort William      
350
Pigeon River      
50
Lac d'Original      
50
Lacloche     Lake Huron
150
Little Current      
500
Mississaugie      
150
Green Lake      
150
Whitefish Lake      
150
Sault St. Marie     Sault St. Marie
150
Moose Factory Rupert's Land   Moose
180
Hannah Bay      
50
Abitibi      
350
New Brunswick      
150
Great Whale River     East Main
250
Little Whale River      
250
Fort George      
200
Rupert's House     Rupert's River
250
Mistassiny      
200
Temiskamay      
75
Woswonaby      
150
Mechiskan      
75
Pike Lake      
80
Nitchequon      
80
Kaniapiscow      
75
Temiscamingue House Canada   Temiscamingue
400
Grand Lac      
200
Kakabeagino Rupert's Land    
100
Lake Nepisingue Canada    
130
Hunter's Lodge      
100
Temagamingue      
100
Lac des Allumettes   Montreal Fort Coulonge
200
Joachin      
75
Matawa      
100
Buckingham     Lac des Sables
50
Rivière Desert      
100
Lachine House     Lachine Whites
Three Rivers     St. Maurice Whites
Weymontachingue      
150
Kikandatch      
130
Tadousac     King's Posts
100
Chicoutimie      
100
Lake St. John's      
250
Isle Jeremie      
250
Godbout      
100
Seven Islands      
300
Mingan     Mingan
500
Masqouarro      
100
Natosquan      
100
North West River Newfoundland   Esquimaux Bay
100
Fort Nascopie Rupert's Land    
200
Rigolet Newfoundland    
100
Kibokok      
100
Fort Vancouver Washington Territory Oregon Columbia
200
Umpqua Oregon Territory    
800
Cape Disappointment Washington Territory    
100
Chinook Point      
100
Caweeman      
100
Champooeg Oregon Territory    
150
Nisqually      
500
Cowelitz      
250
Fort Colvile Washington Territory   Colvile
800
Pend Oreilles River Indian Territory    
400
Flat Heads Washington Territory    
500
Kootonais      
500
Okanagan      
300
Walla Walla Oregon Territory   Snake Country
300
Fort Hall      
200
Fort Boisé      
200
Fort Victoria Vancouver's Island Western Vancouver's Island
5,000
Fort Rupert      
4,000
Nanaimo      
3,000
Fort Langley Indian Territory   Fraser's River
4,000
Fort Simpson     Côte Nord-Ouest
Tribus du Nord
10,000
35,000
Kamloops
Fort Hope
    Thompson's River
2,000
Stuart's Lake
M'Leod's Lake
Fraser's Lake
Alexandria
Fort George
Babines
Connolly's Lake
    New Caledonia
12,000
Honolulu Sandwich Islands         "       "      
---
" Add Whites and half breeds in Hudson's Bay Territory not included
6,000
" Add Esquimaux not enumerated    
4,000
  " Total    
158,960

_____

" The Indian Races shown in detail in the foregoing Census may be classified as follows :

" Thickwood Indians on the east side of the Rocky Mountains
35,000
" The Plain Tribes (Blackfeet, &c.)
25,000
" The Esquimaux
4,000
" Indians settled in Canada
3,000
" Indians in British Oregon and on the North-west coast
80,000
          " Total Indians
147,000
" Whites and half-breeds in Hudson's Bay Territory
11,000
          " Souls
158,000"

The memorandum is reprinted here as it is, without taking account of a slight difference between the figures in detail and the addition. This slight difference may either arise from an error in details or addition it cannot therefore be corrected, and is, besides, of little consequence.

In the examination of this memorandum it is desirable to consider separately the population living to the East from that living to the West of the Rocky Mountains, as represented in the aggregate contained in the summary at the end of the memorandum.

With respect to the East, the number of 35,000, representing the population of the woods (outside of the Provinces), is evidently overrated. 1. From the fact that the white and half-breed population registered with the aboriginal population is represented by a lessened number. 2. From the fact that the number of the aboriginal population within the limits of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec (Canada) is also made too small. The figure, 25,000, representing the population of the Prairie Indians, includes a comparatively large number of Indians belonging to the American territory, and is, consequently, by so much in excess of the number of that population in British territory.

Sir George Simpson must have observed all this, as in his evidence, instead of adopting the total number of 147,000 in the Memorandum, he gave the Committee 139,000 as being the number of the whole Indian population under the rule of the Company, throughout the whole North American Continent (Page 57 of the Report). He thus apportions the aboriginal population in the British territory to the East of the Rocky Mountains : In Rupert's Land, 42,840 (that item is made to include the Quebec and Ontario Indians, trading with the Company) ; in Athabaska-Mackenzie, which he calls Indian Territory, 12,730 ; in the Esquimaux country, 4,000, of which he makes a total in round numbers, of 59,000 (Page 57 of Committee's Report). So far Sir George Simpson's estimate agrees, not in details but in its general results, with that in the Table given in this Volume. The Table, again, agrees on the whole with the Memorandum laid before the Committee, if the error pointed out is corrected, and if, as Sir George seems to have done, the American quota of the tribes is deducted, of whom he says in his answers (Page 102 of the Committee's Report), "They wander from the Missouri to the banks of the Saskatchewan." In the Table of this volume only that part of the population belonging to British America is spoken of.

The Memorandum and Sir George Simpson both assign 80,000 of the aboriginal population to the territories then administered by the Company, to the West of the Rocky Mountains, from the northern extremity as far as and including Oregon, and from the summits of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, including Vancouver's and other islands, and the coasts and islands on the southern belt of the Russian territory of Alaska (leased to the Company at an annual rent of £1500 sterling).

On examining the Memorandum carefully, in its details concerning the Indian population of the West of the Rocky Mountains, there must at once be detected an error, fortunately great enough and manifest enough not to escape notice, which has slipped into this document, either from the fault of the copyist or the printer, but the amount of which has been added to, and forms part of the total.

There is assigned to the jurisdiction of Fort Simpson on the Pacific coast a population of 45,000 souls (10,000 + 35,000). That is a number much greater than half of the total population assigned in the same document, to the whole of British Columbia, the North West, west of the Rocky Mountains, part of Alaska, the territories of Washington, Idaho, Oregon and part of Montana taken together, for about the 10th part of the extent of territory, which is very little above the mean conditions of all the circumstances of the climate, situation and resources of these regions, whilst at the same time all the neighbouring posts are given their full contingents of population. In other words it is estimating at more than 56 per cent. the population of 10 per cent. of the space occupied, everything else being almost equal on the average. By a careful consideration of the state of things, the fact becomes clear that there was a population of about 4,500 (1,000 + 3,500) resorting to that post, and it is more than probable that that was the figure given by the officers who replied to the enquiry respecting the Fort Simpson district.

The aboriginal population here mentioned in the Memorandum of the Hudson Bay Company, to the West of the Rocky Mountains, could not then be estimated at 80,000, but at about 39,500. Now, as a good deal more than a third of the space occupied is situated in the Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Alaska Territories, it is reasonable to subtract more than a third from this number to ascertain the number of the Indian population in the British Possessions to the west of the Rocky Mountains. By adding to the residue a number sufficient to represent the portions of tribes of the western watersheds of the extreme North-West, not comprised in British Columbia nor counted in the 4,500 attributed to Fort Simpson (The Memorandum has included them with forts Halkett, Youcon and Peel), we obtain the approximate number of 26,000 to represent the aboriginal population in British North American territory, West of the Rocky Mountains, which number has been adopted in the Table as follows :--23,000 in British Columbia and 3,000 outside of that Province. It should be remembered that several of the Hudson's Bay Company forts, situated on British territory, trade with a comparatively large Indian population coming from the American side and from Alaska.

The details necessarily differ considerably according to the mode adopted of localising the aboriginal populations, either by tribes and hunting and fishing grounds, as is done in the Table, or by places for councils and treaties, or by trading posts, and the only way to compare the results of the calculations made from these different points of view, is to do so as a whole. The comparative facility for transport, the difference in the prices of articles (which vary according to posts), and other considerations lead populations, which are comparatively near to a post, very often to trade with posts at a great distance, and even to frequent various posts. All these circumstances must be taken into account to judge properly as to the state of affairs, and it is for this reason that the Company's Memorandum, giving the enumeration of the trading posts or forts, has been put beside the ethnographical table prepared for this work.

This introduction may be properly concluded by the complete account of the territorial superficies and tables of the population of the different parts of British North America, the whole referring as the fixed period, to the year 1871.

Names of Territorial Divisions. Superficies in Square Miles. Superficies in Square Kilomètres.
Newfoundland
42,000
108,775
Prince Edward Island
2,100
5,439
Nova Scotia
21,731
56,283
New Brunswick
27,322
70,763
Province of Quebec
193,355
500,789
Province of Ontario
107,780
279,150
Manitoba
14,000
36,260
British Columbia
356,000
922,040
Labrador, Rupert's Land and North-West
2,465,712
6,386,194
Islands in the Arctic Ocean and in Hudson's Bay
310,000
802,900
        Total
3,540,000
9,168,593



Names of Territorial Divisions. Aboriginal Population. Other Races. Total Population.
Newfoundland (Census of 1869)
null.
146,536
146,536
Prince Edward Island (Census of 1871)
323
93,698
94,021
Nova Scotia (Census of 1871)
1,666
386,134
387,800
New Brunswick (Census of 1871)
1,403
284,191
285,594
Province of Quebec (Census of 1871)
6,988
1,184,528
1,191,516
Province of Ontario (Census of 1871)
12,978
1,607,873
1,620,851
Manitoba (C. 1870)--(Estimate of the Aboriginal Population)
500
12,228
12,728
British Columbia--(Estimate of the Population)
23,000
10,586
33,586
Labrador, Rupert's Land and North-West--(Estimate)
55,500
5,000
60,500
        Total
102,358
3,730,774
3,833,132

The number of the aboriginal population here assigned to the Province of Manitoba, is made up only of the Indians for whom that Province constitutes the hunting and fishing territory, and which necessarily differs from that supplied by the reports and memoranda which register the population by groups assembled for Trade or Counsel.

It is seen in the Report of the Honourable the Minister of the Interior for 1875, that an important part of the territories of the North-West (including the Province of Manitoba), has been the subject of various treaties, by which the Indians have abandoned, for certain considerations, their rights as first occupants, to the Federal Government. An aboriginal population amounting to 13,944 souls, is included in these treaties.


You need to use the free Adobe Reader to view PDF documents. To view (open) these files, simply click on the link. To download (save) them, right-click on the link. Note that if you are using Internet Explorer or AOL, PDF documents sometimes do not open properly. See Troubleshooting PDFs. PDF documents may not be accessible by some devices. For more information, visit the Adobe website or contact us for assistance.