Tuesday 22 September 2020

Treaty 7 Day!

Treaty 7 is the last of the Numbered Treaties made between the Government of Canada and the Plains First Nations. 

It was signed on 22 September 1877 by five First Nations: the Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (Blood), Piikani (Peigan), Stoney-Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina (Sarcee). 

The following comes from the Canadian Encyclopedia.


Historical Context

"In 1870, the newly created nation of Canada acquired Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company. Rupert’s Land was an enormous area of land stretching north and west. One year later, British Columbia entered Confederation    based in part on the promise that a transcontinental railway would connect it to the rest of Canada within 10 years. In order to construct the railway and encourage future settlement, the government considered it necessary to extinguish Aboriginal title to the land (see Indigenous Territory). Bound by the terms of a Royal Proclamation by King George III in 1763, Canada was responsible for the protection of its Indigenous people and promised to preserve their rights to unceded (unsurrendered) traditional territories.

"The mid-19th century was a time of upheaval for the Indigenous nations that eventually signed Treaty 7. There had been repeated outbreaks of smallpox, and the buffalo herds upon which they had relied began to diminish, in part due to increased competition from Cree and Métis hunters (see Buffalo Hunt). At the same time, settlers from the United States set up trading forts and introduced whiskey into communities, causing significant chaos at trading forts. In 1874, the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) arrived under Colonel James Macleod  and put an end to the trade. The First Nations were thankful and, by many accounts, came to trust Macleod. However, the extent to which this trust determined their willingness to sign a treaty has been disputed."


The Treaty allowed for the settlement of Western Canada by Europeans but it is not clear at all that the Tribes who signed Treaty 7 and the other numbered treaties realized hat they would be forced to give up their lands forever.

Again from the Canadian Encyclopedia.


"It is generally agreed that none of Indigenous nations involved in the treaty realized they were surrendering their land, and that none would have agreed to it had they understood the consequences. For the most part, the treaty did not have the effect the First Nations desired: Cree    and Métis hunters continued to trespass, the buffalo disappeared, and settlers continued to arrive. The promised support for the transition to an agricultural lifestyle did not take place, and in most cases the land was unsuitable. Only two years after signing the treaty, a local Catholic priest who had encouraged the nations to sign a treaty described in a letter to David Laird    their extreme poverty: “I have never seen them so depressed as they are now; I have never seen them before in want of food… They have suffered fearfully from hunger.” He went on to argue that, as to the question of whether the Treaty 7 nations understood “the real nature of the treaty” — land surrender — “my answer to this question is unhesitatingly negative.” There was, and remains, widespread feeling that the government has not lived up to its promises or dealt fairly with them.

"The difference between written and oral cultures — including the settlers’ favouring of written documents over oral tradition in terms of legality — has led many elders to claim that there were promises made during the negotiations that never made it into the text of Treaty 7. It is probable that this is the case, given the translation difficulties, differing cultural understandings of binding agreements and the haste with which the government wanted to conclude the negotiations. All the nations involved in Treaty 7 — now represented by the Treaty 7 Management Corporation — have since been involved in claims negotiations with the federal government relating to land surrenders, improperly performed surveys and fraudulent deals, many of which are still ongoing."


The Canadian Encyclopedia entry has lots more information on Treaty 7 and the other numbered treaties. Please check it out, highly recommended.

Thanks for reading.
Victorian Society of Alberta

Monday 7 September 2020

Happy Labour Day!

The  Labour Day holiday was established in Canada by parliament order in 1894.

This article from Alberta Government's Retro Active website talks about the history of Labour Day in Alberta. 

Victorian Society of Alberta

Labour Day in Alberta, 1894-1914

As a social historian, I am fascinated by the history of holidays and public celebrations. Holidays are one way that political authority and popular culture influence each other: governments decide which holidays to recognise, but the people decide how to celebrate them. Records of these celebrations offer a unique window into the past, yielding insight into how our culture and society has (or has not) changed. In honour of this year’s September long weekend, I took the opportunity to look back at how Albertans celebrated Labor Day in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


The Calgary Lathers’ Union, Local 221, participating in an early twentieth-century Labour Day parade (ca. 1908). Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta, IR231
The Calgary Lathers’ Union, Local 221, participating in an early twentieth-century Labour Day parade (ca. 1908). Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta, IR231

The Parliament of Canada passed legislation in 1894 setting aside the first Monday in September as a statutory holiday. The proclamation of this new holiday was one of the many recommendations in the final report of the Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital (1889), which had investigated conditions in factories and industrial worksites across Canada. Given the range of problems exposed by the Commission – including low wages, unsafe working conditions, and the widespread use of child labour – a new holiday was perhaps less urgently needed than other reforms. Nonetheless, the idea of a new holiday received widespread support, and Canada celebrated its first Labour Day on September 3, 1894.

In the heavily-industrialised cities of eastern Canada, this legislation merely caught up with what was already happening in many urban communities, where organised labour had started to take root in the late nineteenth century. Skilled workers such as carpenters, printers, stonemasons and pipefitters organised into craft unions to protect their particular interests. Leaders of these craft unions began to push hard for a holiday that recognised the importance of their labour, and many cities responded by declaring Labour Day a civic holiday in the 1880s. By the time Labour Day was declared a national holiday in 1894, workers in cities like Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal had already been celebrating it for many years.

By contrast, in the relatively new and lightly-industrialised cities of Alberta, the first Labour Day passed with little fanfare. “To-day is Labour day, or rather, no labour day,” the Edmonton Bulletin dryly commented in September 1894, “and as a consequence, the stores in town are closed.” Within a few years, however, each Labour Day was met with greater enthusiasm, and Albertans enjoyed the holiday in ways that would be familiar to us over a century later.

Continued at link.

Sunday 6 September 2020

Rain Gear 1900

This video from TheHistoricalHiker on YouTube shows the creation of a 1900 rain cape.
She also discusses the various materials used in period as well as why she decided to use waxed cotton. 

Victorean Society of Alberta

Saturday 5 September 2020

The Victorian Man

This blog, Notes From the Victorian Man , has a great array of posts, photos, and links for Men during the Victorian age.

Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

As an example of the kind of posts check out this one from August 2019.

Victorian Society of Alberta


Working Men, ca. 1880s

 One of my favorite sort of Victorian photographs to find are group photos of people done in the setting that the group gathers in (versus in a studio). More faces from the period for your money and generally more candid, showing a real moment from the time. Church, school, and family groups are exciting enough but there is something especially real about people photographed where they worked. I think this is the only one in my collection. By the suits on the boss men, it appears to be from sometime in the 1880s but could conceivably be early 1890s. Here is the full photo followed by detail shots of it divided into four quadrants. Lots of wonderful details of every day working guys. Hope you enjoy it and that it helps with your recreation of every day men's working dress at the end of the Victorian period if that is up your alley like it is mine.


Tuesday 1 September 2020

Happy 115th Birthday Alberta!

On Sept. 1, 1905, the Canadian Parliament passed the Alberta Act, which created the province of Alberta from the former Northwest Territories.

(Photo from Calgary Herald archives)

September Book Tuesday

Today is the 1st of September, and also the first Tuesday of September so here is a couple of Book Tuesday selections for you.


Victorian Society of Alberta
- by Faye Reineberg Holt
Leisure and pleasure may never have been the top priority of prairie women, but the pursuit of joy has always been important. Today, the common perception of western women during the early settlement years is one of an overworked, stoic martyr. In a life filled with household drudgery, there could be no energy left for laughter and fun. That perception is as misleading as the generalizations that women didn't want or have political power in the years before the First World War, that they did not work outside the home or that all women desired marriage and children. The lives of western Canadian women settlers were difficult, it's true, but history has often overlooked the fun, joyfulness and frivolity to be found even in the midst of hardship. Filled with excerpts of the writing of women from 1870 to 1960, interviews, and many archival photos, this book takes a look at the lighter side of prairie women's lives. From love, marriage and family, to community activities, arts and crafts, sports, travel and much more, this book is a lively complement to any history buff's collection.
– by Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn & Ruth Goodman

No electricity, no gas, no flushing toilet . . . and no tractor! Could you survive a year on a Victorian farm? In this fascinating time-traveling experiment a team of historians spend a year recreating farm life in 1885. Accompanying the television series, this book follows the team as they try to run a farm using only materials and resources that would have been available to them in the Victorian era. This was a crucial period in the history of Britain—rapid industrialization had radically changed life in the cites but rural communities used a mixture of centuries-old and pioneering modern practices. Packed with informative text and photographs from the farm year, this book reveals exactly what the Victorians ate and wore and how they managed their animals, farmed the land, and organized their lives. In-depth features describe revolutionary advances in more detail, including new inventions, new breeding methods, and advances in agricultural science. Practical projects allow you to join the historians in rediscovering Victorian crafts, cooking, and home care.
Providing a real insight into life on a Victorian farm, this series is also a fascinating reminder of how history comes full circle. The organic diet of 1885, use of natural products for cleaning and healthcare and interests in crafts and gardening are of increasing relevance today as we look for a more responsible way of living over 120 years later.