"The Half-breed Scrip Commission, whose duties began where the treaty
work ended, was composed of Major Walker, a retired officer of the Royal
North-West Mounted Police, who had seen much service in the Territories
and was in command of the force present at the making of the Fort Carlton
Treaty in 1876; and Mr. J.A. Coté, an experienced officer of the Land
Department at Ottawa. The secretaries were Mr. J.F. Prudhomme, of St.
Boniface, Manitoba, and the writer.
Our transport arrangements, from start to finish, had been placed
entirely in the hands of a competent officer of the Hudson's Bay
Company, Mr. H.B. Round, and old resident of Athabasca; and to the
Commission was also annexed a young medical man, Dr. West, a native of
Devonshire, England, whose services were appreciated in a region where
doctors were almost unknown. But not the least important and effective
constituent of the party was the detachment of the Royal North-West
Mounted Police, which joined us at Edmonton, minus their horses, of
course; picked men from a picked force; sterling fellows, whose tenacity
and hard work in the tracking-harness did yeoman service in many a serious
emergency. This detachment consisted of Inspector Snyder, Sergeant
Anderson, Corporals Fitzgerald and McClelland and Constables McLaren,
Lett, Burman, Lelonde, Burke, Vernon and Kerr. The conduct of these men,
it is needless to say, was the admiration of all, and assisted materially.in
the successful progress of the expedition.
Whilst it had been decided that the proposed adjustments should be
effected, if possible, upon the same terms as the previous treaties, it
was known that certain changes would be necessary owing to the peculiar
topographic features of the country itself. For example, in much of it
arable reserves, such as many of the tribes retained in the south, were
unavailable, and special stipulations were necessary, in such case, so
that there should be no inequality of treatment. But where good land could
be had, a novel choice was offered, by which individual Indians, if they
wished, could take their inalienable shares in severalty, rather than be
subject to the 'band,' whereby many industrious Indians elsewhere had
been greatly hampered in their efforts to improve their condition. But,
barring such departures as these, the proposed treaties were to be
effected, as I have said, according to precedent. The Commission, then,
resting its arguments on the good faith and honour of the Government and
people of Canada in the past, looked forward with confidence to a
successful treaty in Athabasca."
Reprinted from Through the Mackenzie Basin: An Account of
the Signing of Treaty No. 8 and the Scrip Commission, 1899 by Charles Mair.