Council of Keewatin - Council Formation - The Fur Trade

The Fur Trade

During the short existence of the Council, it became involved with regulating the fur trade. The Council feared furs contaminated with smallpox would be exported outside the quarantine zone. The Council invited people involved in the fur trade from Keewatin, Manitoba, and even the United States government to discuss the matter. The purpose of the meeting was to solicit testimony and gain support of the industry, in order that the Council could effectively draft, implement and enforce legislation.

The Council passed an act on February 26, 1877, which was subsequently given Royal Assent. The measures adopted effectively quarantined furs from areas of the district deemed infected and prevented their export. However, furs from areas in the District of Keewatin deemed to be free of smallpox could be exported as long as they did not come into contact with infected furs.

All furs before being exported from the district had to pass through depots manned by a quarantine officer appointed by the Board of Health. Any furs believed to have come into contact with parts of the district infected by smallpox were to be destroyed. This led to some problems for the Government of Canada after the Council was dissolved. Some persons affected by having their furs destroyed by the regulations applied to the Government to have compensation for lost property, as no mechanism was put in place when the act was drafted. Claims for compensation were effectively considered, delayed and ultimately ignored.

The Hudson's Bay Company lost a full year in the northern fur trade and therefore pressed for further steps to be taken to prevent another smallpox outbreak. Dr. D.W.J. Hagarty was appointed as medical superintendent of the Manitoba and North-West Superintendencies in October 1878. His mission was to vaccinate all Native person resident in the Manitoba Superintendency. Every spring vaccinations were initiated to the population that was not away hunting.

Read more about this topic:  Council Of Keewatin, Council Formation

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