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Territorial Expansion: The March Westward
Original title:  Manitoba History: The Historiography of Métis Land Dispersal, 1870-1890

Source: Link


Sir George-Étienne CARTIER holds an important place among the Canadian politicians who played a role in the westward expansion of Canada: 

“Among Cartier’s achievements immediately following confederation, may be placed the negotiations that he conducted and the measures he had passed to extend Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was mainly Cartier who was the moving spirit behind the advance westwards; this was something in which he took great pride, but in which, in retrospect, he also saw a few flaws. In October 1868 Cartier and one of his government colleagues, William McDougall*, went to London to negotiate the acquisition of Rupert’s Land and the North-West Territory. As McDougall fell ill, the whole burden of the discussions with the British government and the Hudson’s Bay Company fell on Cartier alone.”


During his campaign to develop the Canadian west, Cartier obtained the help of one of his protégés, the journalist Arthur DANSEREAU:

“Sharing Cartier’s political dream, Dansereau became a champion of Canadian confederation and an advocate of the Liberal-Conservative party. He published forceful articles in favour of the purchase of Rupert’s Land, the construction of a transcontinental railway, and the entry of British Columbia into confederation.”


For Cartier, the development of the west offered possibilities of territorial expansion for French Canadian Roman Catholics. He was convinced of the need to dispatch young professionals to settle there. The notary Marc-Amable GIRARD volunteered to go:

“In 1870 the Manitoba Act was passed, providing for the creation of the province and its union with Canada on 15 July. To Cartier, who had guided the bill through the House of Commons, it was essential that some younger French Canadian professionals should immigrate to the new province without delay to provide leadership for the Métis. It was natural that he should think of his friend Girard, a highly successful notary and land dealer, now 48 years old, unmarried, bilingual, and reliably conservative in politics and religion. Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché of St Boniface, Girard’s friend from student days, added his influence. Cartier and Taché also urged Irish Catholic Henry Joseph Clarke* to go west and recruited Joseph Royal*, a lawyer and ultramontane journalist. Joseph Dubuc*, who went to Manitoba in June 1870, departed with Cartier’s encouragement. All from the Montreal region, they were sometimes referred to as ‘Cartier’s young men.’ Girard was the eldest.”


The following biographies provide more information about the development of the Canadian west in Cartier’s time: 

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