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

Anishinabek Police Service surveillance of communities and individuals engaged in land rights activism

By: Kaikaikons

Anishinaabek have our own forms of policing however like most of our own institutions this role in our communities has become compromised to benefit only the settler government. From the imposition of an Indian Agent and Indian Act Band Council that enforced restrictions over us to those who believe they are creating change by working in the colonial system are only helping to perpetuate the subjection of our rights and freedoms and criminalization of our People under Canada’s assumed jurisdiction.

Above: Partnership between AFN and RCMP. In a Feb 2013 article by the Toronto Star documents acquired through access to information requests, reveal that heads of the RCMP and Ontario and Quebec police met in the summer of 2007 for the “first time in history” with then AFN national chief Phil Fontaine to “facilitate a consistent and effective approach to managing Aboriginal protests and occupations.”

The RCMP’s heightened collaboration with the AFN coincided with the start of a sweeping federal program of surveillance of aboriginal communities and individuals engaged in land rights activism that continues today.


It is well documented by the mainstream media how the RCMP, CSIS, National Defense (Military) and Police Agencies have been spying on Indigenous People’s standing up for their rights and lands where these partnerships have even recruited what is now called the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs of Canada as well as the Assembly of First Nations.

Documents such as Project SITKA obtained through Freedom of Information and shared by the mainstream media in the past decade shows how Canada spies and develops plan’s on how to combat such Indigenous Protests with the help of Police Agencies where such Indigenous Peoples and communities are put in the same category by such agencies and labelled as domestic terrorists. This is type of activity and labeling creates an prejudice environment which contradicts why Canada’s First Nations Policing Policy in the early 1990’s was established in the first place.

The negative relations between non-Indigenous Police and Indigenous Peoples across Canada along with such actions such as the so called Oka Crisis in 1990 and reports like the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples stressed the need of First Nations to establish their own Police Force. The increasing political pressure to do something about Aboriginal policing led to the introduction of the First Nations Policing Policy in June 1991 by the federal government, after extensive consultation with the provinces, territories and First Nations across Canada.

The RCMP’s project SITKA which can be read by clicking the link below is one such document created on how to categorize, and profile Indigenous Peoples organizing to defend their rights and homelands.

First Nations Policing in Ontario

On March 30, 1992, a five year Ontario First Nations Policing Agreement was signed by Grand Council Treaty #3, Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, A.I.A.I., Anishinabek Nation, Six Nations and the Provincial and Federal Government. In 1994, Garden River, Curve Lake, Sagamok and Saugeen First Nations were the original communities to form the Anishinabek Police Service. At this time it was also decided that Garden River would be home to Headquarters because geographically it is situated in the center of the province.

Above: APS LOGO. Anishinabek Police Service enforces Canada’s and Ontario’s Laws and not Anishinabe Laws nor help to defend Anishinabek when Canada breaks its own laws in relations to Indigenous Rights.


In 1996, a three year agreement was endorsed to include 13 more First Nations. In I997, two more First Nations joined the Police Service, bringing the total to 19 First Nations, spread over the province of Ontario. The Police Service has had many changes to the makeup of the member communities and currently sits at 16 member communities.

With the killing of Dudley George in 1995 an unarmed Anishinaabe Land Defender in Ontario there was again more political pressure on Police on how to respectfully engage in Policing Indigenous Peoples specifically at so called protests which was being advocated for by Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples. In response in part to the Ipperwash Inquiry, special programs have been introduced, such as the OPP’s ART (Aboriginal Relations Team), MELT (Major Events Liaison Team). They were to operate within a Framework that emphasizes flexibility, relationship building, dialogue, knowledge and awareness of Aboriginal perspectives and culture, and the use of force only as necessary and as carefully measured

The Ontario Provincial Police also have a Framework for Police Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Incidents https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/ipperwash/policy_part/projects/pdf/OPP_Appendix_E_Framework_for_Police_Preparedness.pdf

The OPP ART and MELT are now amalgamated and now the OPP’s Emergency Response Team.

Anishinabek Police Service spying for Canada?

In February to Mid March 2020, solidarity actions across Canada sprung up in support of the Wet’suwe’ten Nation’s battle to oppose a pipeline running though its territory. Nation wide roadblocks and actions from Indigenous and Settler communities started to catch momentum where Canada’s economy began to be disrupted by a railway blockade in Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory in southern Ontario which played a key role in solidarity actions.

During this time the Anishinabek Police Service were attempting to gain information on potential threats that were in solidarity with the Wet’suwe’ten and Tyendinaga. Land Defenders and Anishinabe activists from Anishinabek communities in Ontario were approached by the Anishinabek Police Service.

“ I was asked to come to the APS station in my community as they wanted to ask me questions. I went up as I thought it was regarding my recent mischief charge for protesting against council.” Says Land Defender John Hawke of Chimnissing Anishinabek Territory (Beausoleil First Nation.)

The RCMP launched Project Sitka to get a handle on Indigenous rights-related demonstrations . The RCMP wanted to identify specific activists who had been arrested, arrested and charged and convicted, create profiles and links to organizations across the country. After probing more than 300 activists, the RCMP came up with a list of 89 at the end of the intelligence project.

“ This Detective introduced himself as Will Shawnoo from the Major Crimes Unit with APS and said he wanted to know what I thought about the political actions currently going on across Canada in regards to pipelines. I asked him if its just me he came to see and why. He said my name is known out there as someone who organizes protest related activities. So I told him to watch the news as there is lots of info on there and I walked out.” Says Hawke who further explained the APS Detective drove 7 hours from London for what was a 20 second interaction.

“ I feel like this was harassment and I was being profiled by APS and that they’re being used by Canada to spy on our people in our communities who stand up for our rights and land where this demonstrates a loss of trust by these First Nations police officers and their organization.” Says Hawke

Hawke wasn’t the only “activist” to be approached by where Karen Bell of Garden River First Nation and Central Region Investigator for APS communicated with a community member who wished to remain anonymous but made a recording on his cellphone of his encounter.

“She came into the dispensary looking for me yesterday afternoon, saying she wanted to have a talk about a protest and solidarity actions going on, then called me on my cell a couple hours later. I went in to see her and recorded it. I didn’t say anything but let her do the talking. It was bullshit” says a First Nation community member in APS’s Central Region.

The Anishinabek Police Service – Major Crime – Investigative Support Unit provides assistance to the Detachments and its Members with investigations and will take a lead on the more serious criminal investigations. The unit is comprised of a supervisor, three detective constables, and two external secondments and domestic violence coordinator. The unit is been responsible to take the lead of major investigations, provide investigative support to detachments, prepare/assist with search warrants and production orders, create intelligence reports, conduct drug education and enforcement, support Professional Standards with investigations and ensuring all domestic violence cases Criminal and Non-Criminal are reviewed..

This is not the first time when Anishinabek Police Services relations with the communities it serves comes into question. The APS have conducted raids to shut down what they claim are illegal Cannabis dispensaries in Garden River First Nation and Wahnipitae First Nation in 2019.

In an article by Dispensing Freedom Sept 2019, (Anishinabek Police Services raid Wahnapitae cannabis dispensaries in violation of Indigenous laws; Stores vow to re-open) APS Police Chief Marc Lesage stated the APS did not receive a request from Chief and Council of Wahnapitae First Nation to conduct the raids, but acted on their own behalf to unilaterally enforce the Federal Cannabis Act on Indigenous lands.

Police Chief Lesage further indicated that he was unaware of the decision made by the Chiefs of Ontario in June of 2019 to assert “complete jurisdiction” to govern all cannabis operations within First Nation territories. Lesage also stated in a phone interview that he did not know that the members of Wahnapitae First Nation voted in a referendum on June 29th 2019 to legalize sales of cannabis in their territory, and that he did not know that Chief and Council had passed an interim cannabis bylaw to regulate the industry on reserve. 

Anishinabek Police Service and OPP raid a Cannabis Dispensary
in Wahnipitae First Nation in 2019 as part of the PJFCET. Photo
courtesy of https://dispensingfreedom.com

On the APS’s literature found on their website they declare, “Although marihuana is legal, all dispensaries have to be licensed.”

Community members along with leadership feel outside laws have no business in regulate their aboriginal right to trade.

The APS is part of Ontario’s Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team – PJFCET Where their literature claims these efforts are to dismantle illegal cannabis trafficking which is supported by organized crime. The APS developed a relationship with the Ontario Provincial Police who are currently managing Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforce-ment Teams (PJFCET) which is comprised of a number of Police Services from Southern Ontario.

Community members feel that APS enforcing outside laws and enforcing the PJFCET they are further helping to criminalize community members who are asserting their aboriginal rights to trade which was the focus of a rally on June 21, 2020 National Indigneous Peoples Day in Batchewana and Garden River First Nations.

Above: Former National Chief of National Indian Brotherhood now AFN Del Riley and author of Sec 25/35 in Canada’s Constitution Act explains at a Rally the Aboriginal Right for First Nations to erect Cannabis Industry without Provincial Interference. OPP Indigenous liaison officer and APS Constable left and right in ball caps.

Community members, Indigenous Dispensary Owners and Supporters along with Del Riley former National Chief of the National Indian Brotherhood now AFN rallied outside APS Police Stations to make their voices heard.

When Riley does visit and consult with First Nation dispensary owners, he issues them ‘constitutional certificates,’ indicating that cannabis dispensaries are protected under Section 25 and Section 35 of the Constitution Act, which he says upholds the right to participate in the cannabis industry through the government’s own recognition and affirmation of existing aboriginal and treaty rights. 

These are not the only questionable actions of the Anishinabek Police Service, in April 2019 CTV and CBC reported on the Heads of the Police Force who were suspended. Police Chief John Syrette and Deputy Police Chief Dave Whitlow were suspended with pay in February 2019. According to a statement released by APS board chair Jeffrey Jacobs, the suspensions were issued “following complaints regarding the conduct of certain members of the senior command.” The statement did not specify the nature of the allegations, but said the board had hired an external investigator after receiving the complaints.

The union representing Anishinabek police officers also refused to comment, as did the leaders of some of the 16 communities the police force protects. When it comes to discipline for the chief and deputy chief, the process is different than the one governing police officers in Ontario, who appear before a provincial tribunal. Instead, these officers will answer to a committee of the Anishinabek police authority.


One of the most historical infamous issues between Reserve Constables in a Police Force under the jurisdiction of Settler Government happened on December 15, 1890 on the Standing Rock Reserve. Fourty Indian Agency Policemen were given instructions to bring Tantanka Iyotanka (Sitting Bull) into custody by the Indian Agent where these Indian Reserve Constables killed Sitting Bull and seven of his friends and family. It is evident today who Indigenous Police really serve and protect.