History on Repeat: Summary of 1798 Penetanguishene Purchase

By: John Hawke

The 1798 Penetanguishene Purchase, Crown Treaty 5 is a complex issue where the lands it involves are fused with the 1815 Crown Treaty 16, the Lakes Simcoe and Lakes Huron Purchase. The 50,000 Acres allegedly ceded in regards to Crown Treaty 5, the Penetanguishene Purchase were consolidated and surrendered by the 1815 Crown Treaty 16 where 250,000 acres were ceded. This is how those 50,000 acres were unlawfully ceded. Slight of hand. This was the basis of a claim submitted by the Chippewa Tri Council (Beausoleil, Rama and Georgina Island First Nations) in 1986 and 1990 to Canada’s Specific Claims Branch but was rejected by Canada.

Map of The 1798 Penetanguishene Purchase
(Crown Treaty No. 5) was clearly not for 50,000 acres.

Elders and Leaderships who’ve passed on throughout the generations from Beausoleil First Nation along with descendants of Chief Aisance, a signatory of the 1798 Penetanguishene Harbour Purchase have always claimed the agreement was only for Penetanguishene Harbor.

On May 19th, 1795 representatives of the “Chippewa Nation” signed a provisional agreement at York; This document indicated that if they received goods worth 100 pounds in Quebec currency they would cede the lands “from the head of Opetiquawising to Nottowaysague Bay including the harbor of Penetanguishene. 1

“Keewaycamekeishcan: who used the Otter totem as his mark, meaning “He went in place of somebody.” This man likely signed the tentative agreement in the absence of one of the chiefs. 2

The Government took no immediate action to fulfill the terms of the provisional agreement. While no money or goods were given no attempt was made to take possession of the lands. Simcoe left the colony in July 1796 and in his absence Peter Russell became the Administer of the Province.

Band Members also speak on traditional hunting grounds south of Nottawasaga Bay in lands covered by the 1815 Lakes Simcoe-Huron Purchase, (Crown Treaty No. 16). 3 It is still of Chief Aisance family’s oral tradition that still holds that there were family hunting grounds within the area of today’s Thunder Beach. 4 The description of the ceded territory was vague.5 The maps accompanying the treaty demonstrated the extent to which the surveyors were unfamiliar with the area. 6

Francis Gore became Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in 1806 and he believed that before the Penetanguishene Peninsula could be developed, the government would have to build a road leading to it from Lake Simcoe. He asserted that the government should purchase these lands in this vicintiy not only to open up a road but also to open it up for settlement. In June 1811 he sent Williams Claus, Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs to negotiate yet another provisional agreement with the Ojibwes of Lake Simcoe and Matchedash Bay. This Treaty was seeking the Ojibwe to cede 250,000 acres of land situated between Kempentfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe and Penetangusihene Bay on Lake Huron. 7

At this meeting of this tentative agreement Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs William Claus told the Chiefs “I do not consider that we have a right to take possession of the land until the deed of conveyance shall; be executed and there is no objection to you occupying the garden grounds at Penetanguishene Bay. 8

Although the goods were sent from England the following summer, they were needed by the government for other purposes and therefore were not used to purchase the land. With the outbreak of war with the United States in 1812, the government believed it could no longer postpone creating a naval base in the area. Claus assured the Chiefs that although the government had sent troops “to open roads and form an establishment on Lake Huron,” it recognized that “all the Lands north of Lake Simcoe” were “still the property of the Indians.” 9

In November 1814 a military road was finished stretching from Kempenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe to Penetanguishene, and in 1815 a blockhouse was built at that harbor. 10 After the war ended the government redirected its attention to obtaining a cession of lands north of Lake Simcoe. In November 1815, “Kinaybicoinini, Alsace and Musquckey, the principal Chiefs of the Chippewa Nation of Indians” signed a treaty agreeing to cede 250,000 acres which was the final ratification of the provisional agreement in June 1811 11, The Lakes simcoe- Lake Huron Purchase, Crown Treaty No. 16

Map of 1815 Lakes Simcoe-Huron Purchase,
(Crown Treaty 16) 250,000 Acres Surrendered

This Treaty however did not contain no reference to the blacksmith which these chiefs had requested in 1811; no mention was made of the promise Claus had made in that year that they could continue to use their lands in and around Penetanguishene. 12

These bands also acted together in September 1850 when W.B Robinson, chosen by the executive Council to negotiate the cession to the crown of the lands on the north shores of Lakes Superior and Huron, 13 did not include them in the negotiating or signing of a treaty concerning bordering on Lake Huron. Chiefs Assance, Snake and Yellowhead met with Robinson one week after the Robinson Treaty had been signed and they asserted that a tract of land on lake Huron between Penetanguishene and the Severn River belonged to them and had never been ceded to the Crown. Robinson later recorded: “Should it appear that these Chiefs have any claim I think I could get their surrender of it for a small amount.” 14

1798 Treaty 5, Penetanguishene (50,000 acres) is larger on official Maps of Ontario Treaties then what was surveyed in the 1795/98 Provisional Agreement and Treaty Maps
The total Population of the people currently living in the 1798 and 1815 preConfederation Crown Treaty 5 and 16 area is 86,921. The Townships are; Tiny, Tay, the Town of Midland, the Town of Penetanguishene 8,962, Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte Township.

The 2018 Williams Treaties Settlement Agreement attempted to resolve such injustices in the 1923 Williams Treaty where harvesting rights were unlawfully surrendered and where there was no proper compensation for the surrender of northern hunting grounds (13 Million Acres separate from the lands in the pre-confederation treaties) The inclusion of the complex issues of these Pre-Confederation Treaties should’ve remained as separate claims as this settlement agreement consolidated such issues with the intent to extinguish the Indigenous Title to such lands for Canada’s benefit.

The 2018 Williams Treaties Settlement Agreement was a repeat of history of the 1798 Penetanguishene Purchase Treaties and 1923 Williams Treaty. The 1923 Williams Treaty and 2018 Settlement Agreement is not a Treaty as there are no annuities for traditional territories being occupied, no rights to education and health care exemplified in the numbered treaties Canada has with other First Nations and provision to remove Canada’s assumption of jurisdiction imposed by the 1867 BNA Act and 1982 Constitution Act.

LEGAL ARGUMENTS

Queen Anne’s Order in Council an Imperial Statute (Constitutional Law) 1704, 1740, 1773 as a result of Mohegan vs Connecticut recognizes the Sovereignty of the Indigenous Nations of North America whereas any disputes between Settler Governments and the Indigneous are to be settled in an impartial third party court which was created and never disbanded. The Royal Proclamation 1763 a constitutional document of Canada recognizes the “several Nations or Tribes of Indians, with whom We are connected”. 15 in which was integrated with the 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain Belt Treaty that recognizes the Sovereignty and Jurisdiction of the Crowns Indigenous Allies. This rule of law exemplifies that Clan Territories of a Tribe and Nation where Indigenous Title can not be extinguished by the Indian Act Elected Band Council’s which are entities created by Canada. First Nations Band Councils are not a Clan, Tribe or Nation and have no lawful authority to represent our peoples and lands.

In a supreme court ruling in the Nowegijick case it states that “treaties and statutes dealing with Indians should be given a fair, large and liberal construction and doubtful expressions resolved in favour of the Indians, in the sense in which they would be naturally understood by the Indians.”16

The Ojibway may not have fully understood that the cessions meant the full surrender of all lands and rights. According to Donald B. Smith in his research in his book The Dispossession of the Mississauga Indians: a Missing Chapter in the Early History of Upper Canada shares “they had no concept of such a surrender, and they were assured that they could ‘encamp and fish where they pleased.” 17

There is debate as to whether our ancestor signatories understood the full meaning of the Upper Canada Land Surrender treaties. Robert Surtees postulated that those who agreed to sell their lands to the Crown during the late eighteenth century did not understand that the treaties represented the complete abandonment of their rights over the lands in question18

The terms and language found in the texts must be tempered by a close examination of what the parties understood them to mean, of the historical context of the period, and of the intent of the agreements. Specifically, the issue of “hunting” or “hunting grounds” is one of considerable interest. Throughout this period, Aboriginal lands were constantly described as “hunting grounds” in official documents and correspondence of the Indian Department.

In light of this usage, did British colonial officials make any distinction between the “hunting grounds” and Aboriginal title in their policies and their practices of treaty-making?


  1. Indian Treaties and Surrenders: From 1680 to 1890 Vol. I pg. 16-17
  2. A History of Christian Island and the Beausoleil Band, University of Western Ontario, (1990) Volume III pg. 22 (Interview with Doris Fisher, April 1989)
  3. A History of Christian Island and the Beausoleil Band, London On: Department of History, University of Western Ontario, 1990, Volume III Pg. 5 Interview with Merle Assance Beadie, April 1989; descendant of Chief Aisance signatory of Penetang Purchase
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. A History of Christian Island and the Beausoleil Band, London On: Department of History, University of Western Ontario, 1990, Volume III Pg. 26
  7. NAC, R.G 10, Vol 4, Indian Affairs , Lieutenant -Governors Office, Upper Canada, Correspondence, 1815-1816, Francis Gore to Elisha Beamen and Henry Procter, 14 November 1815, p.1802, See also Robert J. Surtees, “Indian Land Cessions in Ontario, 1763-1863: The “Evolution of a System” (Ph.D thesis, Carleton University, 1983), pp.175-177. Each of these works deals with the controversial “purchase” made during the 1780’s
  8. Proceedings of a Meeting with the Chippewa Indians of Matchedash and Lake Simcoe at Gwillembury, 8-9 June 1811, C.O.42,351, P.132 (mfm. Ontario Archives)
  9. NAC, R.G.10,vOL.4, Indian Affairs, Lieutenant-Governor’s Office, Upper Canada, Correspondence, 1809-1814, William Claus to Edward Macmahon, 29 December 1814, pp. 1624-1625
  10. Stanley, Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History, p.289
  11. Indian Treaties and Surrenders: From 1680 to 1890, pp. 42-45
  12. Indian Treaties and Surrenders: From 1680 to 1890 pp. 44-45, p.176 and p. 177. For further discussion of the background to and significance of this treaty see Johnson, pp. 367-374
  13. See Julia Jarvis, “William Benjamin Robinson,” in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. X, 1871-1880 (University of Toronto Press, 1972), PP. 622-625
  14. W.B. Robinson to Colonel Bruce, 24 September 1850, reprinted in Alexander Morris, The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, including the Negotiations on which they were based, and other information relating thereto. ( Toronto: Belfords, Clarke. 1880_, Facsimile edition reprinted by Coles Publishing Company, Toronto, 1979, p. 20
  15. 1763 Royal Proclamation
  16. Nowegijick v. The Queen, [1983] 1 S.C.R. 29.
  17. Donald B. Smith. “The Dispossession of the Mississauga Indians: a Missing Chapter in the Early History of Upper Canada,” in Ontario History, vol. 73, no. 2, June 1981, p. 71
  18. Surtees, op cit, p. 23

Extinguishment of Territory: 2018 Williams Treaties Settlement Agreement

(Information shared in this Article specific to the agreement can be found on the Government of Canada’s Websites)

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An Anishinabe Blockade of Ontario’s Awenda Provincial Park’s main entrance erected on June 21, 2019 for 5 Weeks in opposition of Extinguishment of Indigenous Title to 13 Million Acres

A 2018 Settlement Agreement between the Williams Treaties First Nations, Canada and the Province of Ontario to resolve issues surrounding the 1923 Williams Treaties is a repeat of history where Ontario has already breached this Agreement says a Land Defender.

John Hawke, a Beausoleil First Nation member erected a blockade on June 21, 2019 for five weeks of Ontario’s Awenda Provincial Park situated on land involved in the settlement to raise awareness of what he feels is a continuation of injustice. Hawke also claims there is a potential conflict of interest by two Federal Ministers who have property on the Indigenous lands that were surrendered in this agreement.

“ A group of us set up a cultural camp and built a cabin in Awenda Provincial Park in 2012 to oppose these kinds of agreements. The 2019 blockade of the Park was a heightened action in response to continued extinguishment of our underlying title of our traditional territory.” Explains Hawke.

Hawke feels the Agreement to compensate for grievances surrounding the 1923 Williams Treaties replicates the same injustices it attempts to resolve.

“Canada breached its fiduciary responsibility to work in our best interest on behalf of the Crown and continues to do so in these biased settlement agreements.” explains Hawke who feels a more fair process should be pursued when dealing with such land disputes.

“ An Imperial Statute in 1704 and reaffirmed in 1773 as a result of Mohegan vs Connecticut established a special impartial court for Indigenous Nations and Settler Governments to settle land disputes.” Explains Hawke.
The Williams Treaties First Nations include Alderville First Nation, Chippewas of Beausoleil First Nation, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

HISTORY OF THE 1923 WILLIAMS TREATIESRobinson___Williams_treaties_map

Between 1764 and 1850 the British started to make what is referred to as pre-Confederation Treaties in Upper Canada with the Anishinaabe in order to occupy their lands for military use.

The ancestors of the Williams Treaties First Nations entered into these pre-Confederation Treaties (the Collins Treaty of 1785, the Crawford Purchase of 1784, the Gunshot Treaty of 1787-88, the Penetanguishene Treaty No.5 of 1795, Treaty No. 16 of 1815, Treaty No.17 of 1816, Treaty No. 18 – Nottawasaga Treaty of 1818, Treaty No. 20 – Rice Lake Treaty of 1818, Treaty 27-27 1/4 of 1822).

In these Treaties, Anishinabe Hereditary Clan Leaderships reserved their harvesting rights over the lands surrendered where as early as 1847 they started to petition the Crown about encroachment on their pre-Confederation Treaty harvesting areas and onto their northern hunting territories which had not been surrendered.

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Map of Williams Treaties lands, 12,944,400 Acres

In entering into the 1923 Williams Treaties these communities expected to protect their pre-Confederation Treaty harvesting rights and to receive compensation for their northern hunting territories. In contrast, the Crown interpreted the Williams Treaties as taking not only a surrender of all lands that were held in aboriginal title by the seven First Nations but also taking a surrender of all other rights in pre-Confederation treaties. As a result these First Nation’s were the only Indigenous peoples in Canada to be denied rights to harvesting (hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering).

In the 1980’s research led to the conclusion that the Williams Treaties did not take away all rights. It also led to conclude the Government of Canada, required to act in the best interest of these First Nations as a result of section 91 (24) of the British North America Act 1867 and did not properly compensate the First Nations for rights and land they claimed were taken as a result of the 1923 Williams Treaties.

In 1992, the First Nations filed a suit in the Federal Court. In 1993, Ontario agreed to negotiate and in 1994, Canada agreed to negotiate. In 2000 negotiations ceased because the Crown brought no mandate to the table allowing for negotiations on constitutionally recognized and protected harvesting rights. In 2008, negotiations restarted but again the Crown brought no mandate to negotiate the matter of harvesting right so the First Nations chose to go back to court. In 2009, court proceedings began. In 2016 negotiations resumed and in February 2017, a Negotiations Framework Agreement was established to settle out of court. The negotiated settlement was approved by First Nation members in June 2018 and signed by the seven First Nations in July 2018 and by Ontario and Canada in August 2018.

THE 2018 SETTLEMENT

The Indigenous Title to 13 Million acres; a total of 12,944,400 Acres except for Harvesting Rights on to those lands have been extinguished by the Williams Treaties First Nations. The Settlement included an apology from Canada and Ontario, a total of $1.11 billion in compensation for pre-existing treaty harvesting rights; allowing the purchase of up to 11,000 acres for each First Nation (a willing-seller/willing-buyer basis) and applying to Canada to have the land added to their reserve land base. The agreement declared also to work towards fully implementing the settlement, renew ongoing treaty relationship and to foster reconciliation and understanding.

CRITIQUE OF THE AGREEMENT

Some Community Members feel the Agreement is a continuation of the same injustices implemented on their ancestors and that only certain voices from the community throughout the trial and negotiations were heard.

“ Our harvesting rights are inherit which stems from our underlying title to our Territory which is inseperatable and can never be extinguished on behalf of our future generations. Canada created the poverty and third world conditions that exist in our communities and monopolizes on that in these settlement offers.” Says Hawke.

The designation of lands within the agreement is also a concern.

“We shouldn’t have to purchase our own lands back with our compensation that comes from revenue created off of misappropriated Indigenous Lands that allows Canada to exist. There is available unoccupied Provincial and National Parks that can be transferred back to our Nation.”

“ Applying to Canada to designate any purchased lands as Reserve is further extinguishment as Reserve Lands fall under the Indian Act and belong to the Crown.” Hawke further claims.

Although a substantial one time payment to the seven First Nations was given Hawke feels the agreement is not reflective of the true spirit of Treaty.

“This is not a Treaty and the Agreement is only a real estate transaction. A Treaty needs to guarantee annuities, access to health and education in exchange for occupying our Territory. This agreement doesn’t even include an impact benefit and resource revenue sharing agreement of our Territory.” Explains Hawke.

Hawke’s grievances also echo the voices in other Indigenous Communities which recently was heard and seen within the Wet’suewe’ten this past February and currently at Six Nations of the Grand River where grassroots and Hereditary Leaderships oppose such agreements made by the Indian Act Elected Councils.

“ The Indian Act Band Councils are a creation of Canada and under its jurisdiction and are not the lawful representatives of our Clans, Tribe and Nation where a major conflict of interest exists when they assume jurisdiction to make such agreements regarding our Territories. The 1923 Williams Treaty and this Agreement made with Indian Act Councils are unlawful. ” explains Hawke.

The 1867 British North America Act unilaterally gave the Government of Canada jurisdiction of the new legal definition of “Indians” under it’s Indian Act which also implemented an Elected System and outlawed Tribal Clan Governing Systems. This was done in breach of the Nation to Nation 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain Belt Treaty and the Royal Proclamation.

Although Canada’s Self Government Agreements addresess Hawke’s concerns about specific issues in this Treaty and Agreement he shares a growing concerns along with Indigenous Communities with Self Governments Agreements such as the First Nations Lands Management Act that many communities have ratified.

” There is not enough lands to become Self Sustainable that this Agreements allows. The Self Government Agreements also are not Treaties but are an attempt to to get out of the Indian Act to eventually create us as a fourth level government under the jurisdiction of the Province. We’ve given up title to our massive Territory for a one time payment and these Self Government agreements do not guarantee secured funding for Education, Health and Land Management where we will be forced to become Municipalities where the Federal Government is trying to get out of its Fiduciary Responsibility by these Self Government Agreements” says Hawke.

ONTARIO ALREADY BREACHES THE AGREEMENT

Hawke also raises a concern regarding a potential conflict of interest regarding two Federal Liberal Ministers who have property on lands surrendered in this agreement. The Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett both have property in Tiny Township land that falls within 50,000 acres of the 1798 preConfederation Treaty number 5.

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Above: Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett paddles in Georgian Bay in front of her Thunder Beach Cottage where she is the neighbor of Finance Minister Bill Morneau

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“It is integral to know if they declared a conflict of interest in cabinet before their government agreed to this settlement” Explains Hawke.

If Minister Bennett and Finance Minister Bill Morneau did not declare a conflict of interest in cabinet before government approval of the William’s Treaty settlement, they are guilty of an offence under Ethics and this should be investigated by the RCMP

Hawke feels this 1798 preConfederation Treaty should’ve been handled as a stand alone claim and not swept in with this Settlement which is one factor to his actions taken in Ontario’s Awenda Provincial Park.

“ In this 2018 Agreement a total of 11,000 acres can be purchased back by the seven First Nations yet the 1798 Penetang Harbour Purchase was 55,000 acres of one collective community which was wrongfully surrendered and was submitted as a claim by the Chippewa Tri Council in 1986 and 1990 but rejected by Canada.” Explains Hawke.104475794_10158461372744938_1722501222415233245_o

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Above: 1798 Penetang Purchase was only for the Penetang Harbor. The area in Blue is what was surrendered. Minister’s Morneau and Bennett’s Property is within this area in Thunder Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawke erected a blockade to the entrance to the Provincial Park for 5 weeks which ended by his arrest for allegedly uttering threats to the Park Warden which he says was fabricated to get him out of the park in which OPP took him into custody.

Hawke was taken into custody for almost 30 hours and released on bail. While in custody Park Staff cleared the blockade along with dismantling the cultural camp and cabin that was up for 7 years in a separate forested area in the Park and wasn’t part of the blockade.

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Oshkimaadizig Cultural Camp was set up in 2012 by community members of Beausoleil First Nation in Awenda Provincial Park where the Camp and Cabin was never removed by Ontario until 2019.

“By the Park taking down the cabin and the OPP putting conditions on me not to return to the Park the Province of Ontario has already breached this 2018 Agreement which infringes on our reinstated Harvesting Rights and the promise to foster reconciliation and understanding as declared in the Agreement.” Says Hawke

Hawke further explains that erecting Cabins on Crown lands coincides with Indigenous Harvesting Rights as affirmed in R v Sundown a Supreme Court decision.

Hawke is not addressing the charge of uttering threats, claimed by the Park Warden but has filed a Constitutional Challenge questioning the assumption of jurisdiction of an Ontario Court over Indigenous Peoples and questioning the validity of Canada’s Constitution. Hawke strongly feels questioning Canada’s outstanding constitutional issues and its validity is a fundamental issue that also needed to be raised in this Williams Treaties fight. Hawke and many others throughout Indigenous Communities are criminalized for asserting their Sovereignty, addressing such injustices trying to hold Canada and its Provinces to the Rule of Law.

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 1.55.06 PMHis date for his Constitutional Challenge is in mid December 2020. He also is attempting to find support and raise awareness how Ontario has already breached this agreement by taking the Cabin in the Park down.

For More Information Contact

Johnny Hawke @ ojibwayrebel@gmail.com or   705 247 2120