History & Museum Historical Stories
THE RAT PORTAGE WAR
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Researched and written by Detective Sergeant John Burchill
Manitobans have spent their summers hiking, camping, swimming and
sailing in Northern Ontario’s Lake of the Woods region. In fact
many Manitobans own property in the area. As a result Manitobans
have probably had more social impact on the lives of the people in
Northwestern Ontario than have their provincial counterparts in
southern Ontario. In fact, the three western capital cities of
Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton are all closer to the Northern
Ontario town of Kenora than Kenora is to her own capital city of
Toronto. Geographically it would seem to make sense that Kenora
should have been part of Manitoba, and provisionally it was, until
the "Rat Portage War" of 1883.
the time of Confederation the Ontario provincial boundary was
believed to end somewhere near Port Arthur (Thunder Bay). It never
went as far north as Hudson's Bay and followed instead along the
“height on land” that divided the drainage basin of the Great
Lakes from that of Hudson’s Bay. Quebec was also considerably
smaller, only about one half of it's current size. What is now
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba, Northern Ontario and
Northern Quebec was known as Rupert's Land until 1869 when it was
sold to the Canadian government for £300,000. When transfer of
the land was complete the vast territory was named the
Northwestern Territory. It was from this Territory that the tiny
Province of Manitoba was created on July 1, 1870. However, when
Manitoba was initially created it was no bigger than the size of
the settlements along the Red River Valley, making it the smallest
province in the Confederation.
the administration of justice for the Northwestern Territory was
placed under the control of the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba
and, in anticipation of further land grants, the Government of
Manitoba created several Boundary Acts in the belief that the
Federal Government would eventually enlarge her borders to include
parts of the Northwestern Territory. The first such request was
made on April 24, 1873, when the Conservative Government of
Manitoba sent several members of her cabinet to Ottawa to press
for an enlarged boundary from their federal counterparts. If
Manitoba's request had been granted the province would have been
enlarged to nearly 300,000 sq. miles, with ports on both Hudson's
Bay and Lake Superior. Unfortunately the matter was never settled
as the Federal Government under John A. MacDonald was voted out of
office only a few months later. When the new Federal (Liberal)
Government under Alexander MacKenzie came into power, it declined
to grant Manitoba's request, being openly more sympathetic to
their Ontario counterparts request for an enlarged boundary into
the same area.
on April 12, 1876, prior to being voted out of office, the
MacDonald Government passed “An Act respecting the North-West
Territories to create a separate territory out of part there of”
(39 V, c21). The Act created, within the North-West Territories,
an area the size of Manitoba’s request (basically all of northern
Manitoba and Ontario today). The Act stated that the land “shall
be and is hereby set apart as a separate district of the said
North-West Territories by the name of the District of Keewatin
[and that] the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Manitoba, or
the person acting as such, shall ex-officio be Lieutenant Governor
of the said District
of Keewatin ... and shall make provision for the administration of
justice in the said district, and generally to make, ordain and
establish all such laws, institutions and ordinances as he may
deem necessary for the peace, order and good government
therein”. The Act was proclaimed in force on Oct 7, 1876,
only weeks before MacDonald was voted out of office.
Keewatin Act, as it became locally known, made Manitoba
responsible for the 300,000 square miles of land it wanted, but
without title to it. Eventually, however, the Manitoba Government
hoped that the District of Keewatin would be added to her
provincial boundaries. Except for the prohibition of intoxicants,
the laws in the District of Keewatin were basically the same as in
seems that the Ontario Government also had its eye on the District
of Keewatin and they entered into negotiations with the newly
elected Federal Liberal Government to obtain it. Although Manitoba
was given the role of administering justice in the area, Ontario
laid claim to the land, stating that it had originally been part
of Upper Canada which, in turn became the former province of
Quebec which Britain had acquired from France in 1759 after the
Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The
Treaty of Paris, signed on Feb 10, 1763, ceded all French
possessions in North America to the English. At the time, French
held territory included the Great Lakes Basin and territory "running
from a corner of Pennsylvania, along the Ohio River, westward, to
the Bank of the River Mississippi, and northward to the southern boundary
of the Merchants Adventurers of England Trading into the Hudson's
far as the Ontario Government was concerned this old Treaty
between France and England established Ontario’s boundary
somewhere west of the Lake of the Woods. Ontario’s
interpretation of the Treaty was that her boundary lay due north
from the western most end of the Mississippi River. As the
Mississippi River has its beginning somewhere near Wadena,
Minnesota, a line drawn due north from there places Ontario’s
western most boundary somewhere near where it lies today, about 50
kilometers west of Kenora (formerly known as Rat Portage).
claim that the Ontario boundary lay near Thunder Bay was based on
an 1817 court decision stemming from the trial of Charles de
Reinhardt who was accused of a murder near the Dalles, a narrowing
of the Winnipeg River about 19 kilometers north of Rat Portage. De
Reinhardt was tried in the Criminal Court of Lower Canada (now
Quebec) because it was thought that the Lake of the Woods region
lay in “Indian Territory” beyond the edge of Upper Canada (now
Ontario). De Reinhardt’s lawyer argued that the Court had no
jurisdiction in the case because the Lake of the Woods was
actually part of Upper Canada. After listening to historical
arguments about the frontier boundaries of Canada, Chief Justice
Jonathan Sewell ruled that the western boundary of Upper Canada
(Ontario) ended between Port Arthur and Fort William and that de
Reinhardt was properly tried in Lower Canada.
resolve the dispute, once Alexander MacKenzie came to power, he
appointed as Board of Arbitrators to settle the question of where
Ontario’s western boundary lay. MacKenzie, being openly
sympathetic to Ontario’s claim to the area, chose a Board that
did not contain a single representative from either Manitoba or
the District of Keewatin. On August 3, 1878, the Board ruled that
Ontario’s boundary lay somewhere west of Rat Portage (now
shortly after the Board’s decision was released, Alexander
MacKenzie’s Liberal Government was voted out of office and John
A. MacDonald’s Conservative Party was returned to power. When
asked to ratify the Board’s decision, MacDonald refused stating
that the Board had shown an "utter
disregard to the interests of the Dominion as a whole [in their
decision]” and he refused to accept their ruling. As such
the land was not granted to Ontario. Nevertheless, the Ontario
Government passed an "Act Respecting the Administration of
Justice in the Northerly and Westerly parts of Ontario", and
while it did not yet have the authority to administer justice
there, the Government declared that it was "of
the highest importance ... to secure the peace, order and good
government of the area". Notwithstanding this declaration
Ontario would not appoint any provincial constables in the area
for another three years even though they were to complain to the
Federal Government that “lawlessness abounded in the area”.
the Federal Government refused to recognize Ontario's claim,
effectively voiding their Act, in May 1880 the Conservative Party
did pass an "Act for the Administration of Criminal Justice
[in the Disputed Territory]” (43V, c36). The Act provided that
persons arrested in the Disputed Territory could be tried and
punished under the laws of either Ontario, Manitoba or the
District of Keewatin, however the Act was only to remain in force
until the end of the next Session of Parliament and no longer.
Thus, by providing an automatic expiry date, it was presumed that
a decision respecting the boundary question would be resolved in
the next Session of Parliament, on March 21, 1881, the MacDonald
Government “resolved” the boundary question and passed “An
Act to provide for the extension of the boundaries of the Province
of Manitoba” (44 V, c14). The Act extended the eastern boundary
of Manitoba to a "line
drawn due north from where the westerly boundary
of the province of Ontario intersects the boundary
dividing Canada from the United States". As far as the
Governments of Manitoba and the Dominion were concerned
Manitoba’s eastern boundary lay near Port Arthur (Thunder Bay).
The Government of Ontario, on the other hand, felt that her boundary
did not end until the western most reaches of the Lake of the
Woods, near Rat Portage (Kenora). As the Act did not clearly
define the boundary in geographical terms, it really resolved
nothing, and only added to inter-provincial discord between the
Provinces of Manitoba and Ontario.
July 1, 1881, the Act extending Manitoba’s boundaries was
proclaimed in force throughout the new territory and on August 10,
1881, the Manitoba Government stated that “from and after the 15th day of August, 1881, all enactments and
provisions of all Acts of the Legislature of the Province of
Manitoba should be extended and applied to the territory added to
the said Province ... and all ordinances of the Northwest Council
theretofore in force in the said added territory should on and
after the said date be null and void”.
weeks the Province of Manitoba began appointing officials to take
up duties in their new territory. On August 26, 1881, Charles
McCabe of Rat Portage was made Coroner and Issuer of Marriage
Licences for the Province. On the same date Patrick O’Keefe and
Daniel R. Cameron, also of Rat Portage, were made Constables, and
on September 7, 1881, the County Court and Electoral District of
Varennes was established in Rat Portage and a registrar was duly
appointed. Also on September 7th the Government of Manitoba
repealed the old prohibition on intoxicating liquors that had been
in affect in the area and adopted a new permit system.
a foreshadowing of the troubles to come, it should be noted that
the Federal Public Works Act prohibited the sale of intoxicants at
or near any Public Work, and conflict was due to arise over the
sale of liquor in any area bounded by the new CPR Railway. This
was no more evident than in the small town of Rat Portage where
the rail line ran right through the heart of the community and
keen Dominion Police Officers were routinely on the look-out for
illegal liquor activity.
first such incident occurred when Provincial Constable Patrick
O’Keefe seized four barrels of illicit liquor. Instead of
destroying the liquor O’Keefe, as Court Bailiff, he apparently
took it back to his room for safekeeping. It appears that
O’Keefe’s room was within the jurisdiction of a Public Work
and he was subsequently arrested by a member of the Dominion
Police for breaching the federal prohibition against having liquor
in the area. O’Keefe was subsequently brought before a Dominion
Magistrate and fined for unlawful possession on intoxicating
liquors. After paying the fine O’Keefe waited for the Magistrate
to leave the Bench and subsequently arrested him for having the
same liquor in his possession without a provincial permit. The
Dominion Magistrate was then taken before a Manitoba Magistrate
where he was fined $100.00. As a result of the incident O’Keefe
was relieved of his duties as a Bailiff because “the
proper discharge thereof was incapacitated by his multifarious
duties as Constable”.
was obviously furious with the actions of the Manitoba government
in their “territory” and, although Manitoba had already
established a County Court, Jail and small police force in Rat
Portage, Premier Mowat stated in the Legislature that “I say that it is absolutely necessary that we should go and take
possession, that we should assume the duty of enforcing the laws
there unless some satisfactory provisional arrangement can be made
...if the people of Ontario have been asleep, I venture to say
that they are aroused now and that they will be asleep no more,
and that they will not rest until every mile of the awarded
territory is surrendered to us” (January 27, 1882, Report of
the proceedings in Ontario Legislature). He continued this defiant
tone several weeks later when he stated that “it
has, in the opinion of this House, become the duty of this
Province to assume without further delay the full government and
ownership of the territory, without reference to the claims of the
Federal Government [who would not] inflict further wrong by
offering forcible resistance to the laws or officers of this
Province, such laws being the only one in force there”
(March 10, Report of the proceedings in Ontario Legislature).
Mowat’s Government claimed that they would take possession of
the area and that these were the only laws in force in the
territory, one of the first major cases to be handled by the
Manitoba Police was the murder of Ted Bescoby in Rat Portage
several weeks after Mowat’s speech in the House. On June 18,
1882, Manitoba Provincial Constable William Houston was called to
the house of Mrs. Ann Bescoby and once inside he found the body of
her husband, Ted Bescoby beaten and stabbed to death. Mrs. Bescoby
was subsequently arrested and transported to Winnipeg where she
faced charges of murder. Although Mrs. Bescoby was later
acquitted, what is significant about the case is that Ontario
never challenged the authority (or the jurisdiction) of the
Manitoba Police or Courts to arrest and try Mrs. Bescoby for
thereafter, on July 22, 1882, as a result of a petition to the
the town of Rat Portage was incorporated under the laws of
Manitoba. The incorporation of the town gave the municipality the
power to raise money, through the sale of business licences, to
make local improvements and hire town officials. A few weeks
later, on September 25, 1882, the Manitoba Government approved a
request from the new Mayor and Town Council of Rat Portage,
requesting that the provisions of the Manitoba Intoxicating Liquor
Act, regarding the sale of liquor licenses, be extended to their
January 12, 1883, another murder rocked the small town of Rat
Portage when the Manitoba Police arrested Thomas Drewes in
connection with the death of Patrick Maloney. A week earlier
Drewes had struck Maloney over the head with an axe, and when
Maloney finally succumbed to his injuries Drewes was arrested and
transported to Winnipeg for trial. On March 13, 1883, Drewes was
convicted of Manslaughter in Winnipeg. Like the Bescoby case,
Ontario never challenged the authority (or the jurisdiction) of
the Manitoba Police or Courts to arrest and try Drewes for murder.
Ontario did not seem to be actively challenging Manitoba’s
authority in the area (physically anyway), on July 7, 1883, the
Manitoba Government indicated that it would be calling an election
shortly in the area for a seat in the Manitoba Legislative
Assembly. The date of the election was subsequently set Official
Proclamation for September 28, 1883.
that their claim to the area was quickly slipping away with every
unchallenged act by the Manitoba authorities, on July 9, 1883, the
Government of Ontario announced that they would be placing six
Provincial Constables on duty in Rat Portage, building a jail and
appointing a magistrate. On July 16 it was announced that W.D.
Lyon had been appointed Stipendiary Magistrate and that Captain
Burden would become the Chief of Police with the authority to
swear in 20 special constables. The Ontario Government then
immediately set about issuing business licenses and liquor
licenses to the area residents. The Rat Portage “War”
was about to begin as anyone operating under a Manitoba
license was arrested by Ontario constables for liquor violations
and anyone operating under an Ontario license was arrested by
arrested on the order of one magistrate were liberated by the
orders of another. Prisoners committed to jail by the authorities
of one government were taken out by parties of men who claimed
that they were merely upholding the rights of the other. Finally,
constables who made arrests on the orders of one magistrate found
themselves arrested for doing so by constables acting on the
orders of another justice of the peace. The administration of
justice at Rat Portage resembled a "Keystone Cops"
scenario. As witnessed by Alexander Begg, in his book on the History of the
North-West, "one day a Manitoba constable would be arrested for drunkenness by an Ontario
constable, the next, Manitoba would reciprocate by arresting an
Ontario official, or this dull routine would be enlivened by an
assault on a newspaper correspondent, or the apprehension of one
of the magistrates on some trumped-up charge, to be followed by a
general swearing out of informations and wholesale arrests all
around the official circle. While these interesting proceedings
commanded the strict attention of the magistrates and police, it
may be imagined that the gamblers and whisky pedlars enjoyed
almost complete immunity, for it was next to impossible for a
constable, zealous as he might be in the discharge of his duty, to
observe the actions of evil-doers, while he himself was a fugitive
from justice, engaged dodging a warrant for his own arrest".
newspaper correspondent at the time also described the events of one
day in July 1883 thusly: "Dominion Commissioner McCabe with two policemen, Ontario
Magistrate Burdon with twenty-five policemen, and Stipendiary
Magistrate Brereton with fifteen policemen acting on behalf of
Manitoba, have been arresting each other all day; and the people
have been siding, some with one party and some with another, to
the imminent danger of the peace and of loss of life."
arrests reached their height near the end of the summer when Keyes
and Montgomery, two Ontario policeman were arrested and detained
for illegally selling liquor. They appeared before the Manitoba
justice, were convicted and sentenced to jail in Winnipeg. While
awaiting transportation to Winnipeg an attempt was made to free
the Ontario constables from the Manitoba jail by drawing their
officers away from the building by setting fire to the stables
behind a local hotel owned by one of the Manitoba Justices. In the
melee Ontario Magistrate Burden ordered the arrest of the Manitoba
police officers involved in the arrest of his officers, as well as
the magistrate who found them guilty.
the fire Manitoba Constables Dugald McMurphy and Edward Rideout
arrested several of the disorderly persons, however on their way
to the Manitoba jail they were stopped by members of the Ontario
police and arrested and detained in the Ontario jail for making
unlawful arrests. The officers were eventually released after
paying a $50.00 fine, however in retaliation for the arrests the
Manitoba constables swooped down on Ontario liquor license holders
and threw them in jail. The following evening, according to the
Winnipeg Daily Times, "a crowd numbering one hundred and fifty gathered in front of the
jail [and] they battered in the door with a battering ram".
The Ontario prisoners were liberated by the mob and on July 28 the
jail was burnt to the ground.
this incident the Manitoba government sent Premier Norquay,
Attorney-General Millar, Manitoba Provincial Police Chief
Constantine and twenty-five constables on an overnight train to
Rat Portage. They arrested three men in connection with the jail
break and shipped them back to Winnipeg in leg irons. Charges of
kidnapping arose from the Ontario supporters but all the prisoners
were committed for trial in Winnipeg — including one Ontario
constable who was arrested at the preliminary trial when he tried
to give evidence on behalf of the prisoners.
a subsequent report to his Cabinet, Premier Norquay made it quite
clear that he felt Ontario was interfering with the good
government of the area as, until that time, "no protest or question of Manitoba's authority to the
establishment of the courts, and the administration of civil and
criminal justice has ever been made". The actions of the
Ontario constables in the jail break clearly (at least to Mr.
Norquay) constituted illegal and unacceptable interference into
Manitoba affairs, and further that "the
Manitoba Government will hold the Ontario Government responsible
for any future disturbances which may occur at Rat Portage in
consequence of the undue interference of Ontario officials".
further complicate an already complicated matter, on August 22,
1883, the Ontario Government incorporated Rat Portage as a
Township under the laws of Ontario. The Ontario Government further
announced that on September 28, like their Manitoba counterparts,
they would be holding a provincial election in the area. Holders
of mining stocks were allowed to vote in the elections. This threw
the voters' lists wide open. The mining boom had collapsed and
stock certificates could be obtained for pennies and Ontario
supporters complained that the Manitoba government was buying up
these stocks and herding “men
out from Winnipeg like cattle to vote for the government."
the elections drew near, disturbances and near riots were being
reported in Rat Portage. To deal with the situation the Manitoba
government assembled sixty men from the Winnipeg Field Battery and
sent them under arms to the area. The Ontario government was
furious that Manitoba should send an army
into another province of the Dominion in connection with an election to the legislature
of that province. The Premier of Ontario even went as far to state
that "Acts such as
these would, as between independent states, have been a
declaration of war."
election (in both ridings) took place without incident.
Attorney-General J.A. Miller was elected to the Manitoba
Legislative Assembly while R.A. Lyon was elected to the Ontario
Legislature. Thus, the town of Rat Portage had, in addition to
three sets of police officers, two organizations for municipal
government, and representation in two provincial legislatures.
Nevertheless the district had less of good government and more of
lawlessness than any other place in Canada. Even though they were
not running against each other, it is interesting to note that Mr.
Miller's majority in Rat Portage was 113 votes higher Mr.
Lyon’s, leading the Winnipeg Times to suggest that the people of
the area had chosen the ruling Manitoba government to govern them
and that "he [Mr. Lyon]
the ruling party in Ontario had won their seat in the provincial
election, on September 29, 1883, Attorney General Oliver Mowat
wrote “all the Acts of the
Manitoba Government and officers in civil matters are illegal and
they are subject to actions for damages by every person with whom
or whose property in the assumed administration of Civil Justice,
they interfere. Every man whom they arrest on civil process is
arrested wrongfully; every man whom they imprison on civil process
is imprisoned wrongfully. The same is the case in regard to their
acts in criminal matters ...”
situation was obviously out of control, and in November matters
came to a head. On November 23, 1883, a shopkeeper named Malcolm
McQuarrie was charged by a Manitoba policeman for selling liquor
without a license. Although he protested that he was allowed to
sell the liquor pursuant to an Ontario permit, McQuarrie was
ordered to appear before the Manitoba Magistrate. The Ontario
police advised McQuarrie not to respond to the summons and
stationed a squad of men, some inside and some close to his store,
to prevent his arrest by the Manitoba authorities.
November 28, Attorney General Miller arrived from Winnipeg and
ordered the Ontario authorities to give up the wanted man, or have
him taken from them by force. The threat did not work and as a
result Manitoba’s Chief of Police for Rat Portage, James A.
Creighton (a former Winnipeg police officer who resigned in July
to take the posting in Rat Portage) and three other officers
(including G. Noxon and R. Brethour - also former Winnipeg Police
officers) went to McQuarrie's store and arrested him. Creighton
was immediately pounced upon by 20 Ontario special constables who
arrested him for assaulting McQuarrie. As Creighton was being
hauled off to the Ontario jail the three remaining Manitoba
officers arrested McQuarrie for failing to attend court. However,
as the Manitoba officers were hauling him off to their jail, they
too were arrested by a group of Ontario officials and locked up in
to the Ontario jail with Creighton. All but Creighton were
eventually released on bail by the Ontario magistrate. Creighton
was denied bail until his trial. Apparently the Province of
Manitoba wanted Creighton held in custody so that they could
appeal his case to the Supreme Court and have the boundary
question ruled on once and for all.
the arrest and detention of Creighton the two provincial leaders
finally decided that enough was enough and settled on an agreement
where each would appoint
a Commissioner of Police for the Territory and as many constables
as they thought necessary. They agreed that both town councils
would be suspended and that one Municipal Board would be elected
until dispute was resolved. Chief Creighton was subsequently
released from custody and J.W. Brereton was appointed as the new
“Commissioner of Police in the Disputed Territory” and J.R.
Foster, J.A. Creighton and D. Sutherland were appointed as his
policemen. After preparing their arguments the matter was
presented to the Queen's Privy Council (the Privy Council being
the highest law in Canada at that time) on July 16, 1884, and it
was finally settled on August 11 of that same year when the
Council awarded the entire parcel of land to Ontario, agreeing
that Ontario's boundary ran in a northwesterly direction along the
The federal government was evidently not very pleased with the Privy Council's decision as they did not recognize Ontario's “new” boundary for another 5 years, when they “officially” enlarged the province by an Act of Parliament in 1889. Manitoba remained as it had been, a small "postage stamp" province, and it's final boundaries were not established until 1912. While Manitoba gained her ports on Hudson’s Bay, whether by cruel irony or design, the final eastern most tip of Manitoba’s boundary terminates at a line drawn due north from the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
For more information on the history of the Lake of the Woods region - please see The Lake of the Wood Museum in Kenora, Ontario.
Rat Portage was not the only community to face the ‘Keystone Cops’ scenario surrounding the sale of liquor (although it was the only one that also involved disputed borders). Another was the town of Donald, B.C.
The town of Donald began its existence in 1883 as a garish little town of shacks and saloons, where fighting and gambling was the norm. It sprang up at the end of the Canadian Pacific Railway when construction stopped for the winter at the first crossing of the Columbia River (Donald was originally called “First Crossing”).
It was here on November 15, 1883, that Jack Little, the telegraph operator for the railway, wrote:
“[the] saloon … [is] a little hut, 12x16, and it dispenses beer, cigars and something more fiery, in unlimited quantities. The barkeeper is a woman … there is an accordion squeaking in the corner … on all sides we hear the music of the dice box and the chips … they merry music of the frequent and iniquitous drunk; the music of the dance and the staccato accompaniment of pistol shots; and the eternal music, from the myriad saloons and bars along the street, and of the scraping fiddle … there is a row at one of the card tables. A pistol shot follows. A man is seen standing back a rough crowd with drawn revolver while another man is lying in a pool of his own blood”. The Last Spike: The Great Railway 1881-1885. Pierre Burton, McClelland & Stewart Ltd, Toronto (1971), pgs 295-296.
Donald, B.C. – Mid-winter
Under B.C. law the saloons were legal as long as they were licensed by the provincial authorities under the Liquor Licensing Ordinance. However, under Dominion law it was illegal to sell, barter, trade or supply liquor within the forty-mile railway belt under the Public Works Act (aka The Peace Preservation Act). While the liquor supplied its own social problems, the licensing regulations caused a series of comic opera disputes between representatives of the two jurisdictions all along the railway. See for example the case of Keefer v. Todd (1885), 1 B.C.R. (Pt. 2.) 249.
In another example, the Dominion government appointed a local “Commissioner of Police for B.C.” under the Canada Police and Peace Preservation Acts to exert its authority in the area, the North-West Mounted Police were also present, as were members of the B.C. Provincial Police - all trying to ensure the orderly sale (or not) of liquor.
During the summer of 1885 this conflux of lawmen in the area resembled a ‘Keystone Cops’ scenario as constables from one jurisdiction seized ‘illegal’ liquor lawfully obtained under license from the other jurisdiction; officers who made arrests on the orders of one magistrate found themselves arrested for doing so by constables acting on the orders of another justice of the peace and several officers were committed to jail by the authorities of one government who were merely upholding the rights of the other.
The matter came to a head in August 1885 when the federal “Commissioner for Police for B.C.”, George Johnston, was arrested and detained by the B.C. Provincial Police for assault and obstruct justice in Farwell (now Revelstoke). Colonel J.F. Macleod, ex-Commissioner of the NWMP, was dispatched to settle the matter and upon his arrival he sat as a second magistrate to hear all the allegations against the officers. On August 30, 1885, Johnston pled guilty to obstructing members of the B.C. Provincial Police and was fined a total of $39.75, including costs. The other officers involved, also pled guilty, but were remanded to their supervisors for disposition.
A few days later, on September 12, 1885, the Supreme Court ruled that the Dominion’s attempt to regulate the control of all liquor traffic in the country through its own licensing system pursuant to the Liquor Licence Act, 1883 (46 Vic. c. 30 and 47 Vic. c. 32) was unconstitutional, or ulta vires their legislative authority. A reference to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council upheld the ruling (see C.R.  A.C. 286).
An Act to Extent the Laws of Manitoba to, and Provide for the Government of the Territory to be added to the Province by Extension of its Boundaries. Statutes of Canada 1881. 44 Vic., Chap. 6.
An Act to Provide for the Enlargement of the Boundaries of Manitoba on Equitable Terms. Statutes of Manitoba 1873-74. Chap. 2.
An Act to Provide for the Extension of the Boundaries of the Province of Manitoba. Statutes of Canada 1881. 44 Vic., Chap. 14.
An Act Respecting the North-West Territories, and to Create a Separate Territory out of part thereof. Statutes of Canada 1876. 39 Vic., Chap. 21.
An Act Respecting the Territory in Dispute Between this Province and the Province of Ontario. Statutes of Manitoba 1884. 47 Vic., Chap 2.
Anderson, F.W. Outlaws of Manitoba. Saskatoon: Frank Anderson.
Gibson, D & L. (1972). Substantial Justice: Law and Lawyers in Manitoba 1670-1970. Winnipeg. Peguis Publishers.
Higley, D.D. (1984). OPP: The History of the Ontario Provincial Police Force. Toronto: Queen’s Printer.
Lake of the Woods Museum, 300 Main Street, Kenora, Ontario.
Manitoba, Government of. Administration of Justice Expenditure Reports for the years 1883 and 1884. Sessional Papers. 47 Vic., App. #4 and 48 Vic., App. #1.
Manitoba Gazette, Province of Manitoba. June 30, 1881; July 22, 1882; Aug. 5, 1882; Sept. 18, 1882; Sept. 25, 1882; Oct. 14, 1882; March 31, 1883; and July 28, 1883.
Morrison, J.C. (1961). The Manitoba Boundary Dispute in Oliver Mowat and the Development of Provincial Rights in Ontario: A Study in Dominion-Provincial Relations, 1867-1896. In Cathcart, B.L. (ed) Three Theses. Ontario Dept. of Public Records and Archives.
Provincial Archives of Ontario, Campbell Papers. John A. MacDonald to A. Campbell, May 12 and 20, 1881.
Report of the Attorney-General of Ontario to the Lieutenant-Governor. Ontario Sessional Papers 1884, 47 Vic., Appendix (No. 4).
Report of the Hon. J. Norquay to the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba. Manitoba Sessional Papers 1884. 47 Vic., Appendix (No. 4).
Resolution of Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Ontario Sessional Papers 1882. No. 69, Vol. XIV, Part VII.
Schofield, F.H. (1913). History of Manitoba, Volume 1. Winnipeg: S.J. Clarke Publishing.
Winnipeg Centennial Library, Micromedia/Periodicals/Circulation, Newspaper Archives.
Winnipeg Police Museum and Historical Society record books and archives.
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