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As previously indicated, Order-in-Council, P.C. 810, 20 April, 1885, set the deadline for scrip claims by Métis residents of Manitoba for 1 May, 1886, while Order-in-Council, P.C. 630, 12 March, 1892, set the deadline for scrip claims by Métis residents of the North-West Territories for 1 May, 1894. Nonetheless, despite the expired time limits, the Alberta-Saskatchewan Commission (as authorized by P.C 438, 2 March, 1900) soon discovered that there was a general perception among the Métis that the Commissioners would be dealing with all their claims irrespective of time limits already fixed. In an attempt to provide equitable treatment and not to arouse bad feelings, the Department instructed the Commissioners "... to take the evidence in all claims presented and to reserve for future action those that were barred by the time limits" (P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901).
In the end, some 800 claims were preferred by the Alberta-Saskatchewan Commission, of which nearly 150 had missed the time limit. Since most, if not all, the claimants had missed the deadline due to circumstances beyond their control, Order-in-Council, P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901, authorized the Minister of the Interior to remove the time limits. As well, James A. McKenna, one of the chairmen of the Alberta-Saskatchewan Commission, was appointed to review the preferred claims "on their own merits".
In an attempt to gather all outstanding Métis claims, the same Order-in-Council also appointed McKenna "... sole Commissioner to deal with the claims of the Half-Breeds of the Territory included in the Province of Manitoba as now constituted which was not included in the Province as constituted by the Manitoba Act, 33 Victoria, Chapter 3, which claims the [Alberta-Saskatchewan] Commissioners were unable to deal with last year , as well as the claims remaining to be dealt with in the North-West Territories ..." (P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901, pp. 1-2.)
Although the federal government was willing to extend its deadline in this instance, the Minister of the Interior felt that the extension, together with the claims that were to be investigated as part of the Treaty 8 adhesions announced under Order-in-Council, P.C. 576, 16 March, 1901, would provide the Métis with ample opportunity to dispose of their claims. Therefore, in an effort to bring Métis claims to a close, Order-in-Council P.C. 575 also ruled that any claims for scrip from Métis residents of Manitoba and the North-West Territories which were not presented to Commissioner McKenna would be barred from any future consideration (P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901, p. 2).
McKenna first dealt with the reserved claims preferred from the year before, and in his preliminary report of 31st May, 1901, to the Minister of the Interior, he submitted his justification as to why certain claims were allowed and others were rejected. McKenna's report was formerly accepted by the Minister and was passed by the Governor-in-Council as Order-in-Council, P.C. 1182, 6 June, 1901.
McKenna then spent the summer travelling through Manitoba and the North-West Territories collecting another 2,122 claims. Unfortunately, his sittings took longer than originally anticipated. An outbreak of smallpox amongst the Métis of Manitoba led him to temporarily adjourn his investigations for about six months (J.A. McKenna to the Minister of the Interior, 1 April, 1902, RG 15, vol. 825, file 616753). In his final report, dated 12 March, 1903, McKenna allowed 1,326 of the claims and rejected 796.
Although his work was effectively finished, the Department was beginning to have second thoughts about his recommendations on Métis applicants who had taken up residence in the United States - claims which the Department had rejected, on his recommendation, under Order-in-Council, P.C. 1182, 6 June, 1901. The Department now felt that the decision was an error and that an applicant's removal from the North-West Territories, after his/her claim had fully matured in 1885, did not deprive him/her of property rights. Consequently, under Order-in-Council, P.C. 1613, 13 August, 1904, the Minister recommended that the Department appoint an officer with all the authority of a scrip commissioner to re-investigate the claims rejected by McKenna in 1901. In the end, the investigating officer, R.C. MacDonald, allowed another 136 claims, each of which was satisfied by an issue of land scrip for 240 acres, aggregating to a total of 32,640 acres.
Order-in-Council, P.C. 1613, 13 August, 1904, also ruled that, in cases of conflicting claims from assignees of scrip, the assignee who had first filed his/her assignment with the Department would be held by the department to be the legal assignee. Shortly thereafter, however, this ruling was rescinded by Order-in-Council, P.C. 2268, 17 December, 1904.
5 June, 1901, to 9 January, 1902; and May, 1902.
Orders-in-Council: P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901; P.C. 1182, 6 June, 1901; P.C. 1613, 13 August, 1904; P.C. 2268, 17 December, 1904; and P.C. 1042, 25 May, 1910.
James A.J. McKenna (P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901); R.C. MacDonald (P.C. 13 August, 1904)
RG 15, series, D II 1, vol. 783 and 784, file 556321, parts 1 to 4, title: "Half-Breed Commission file, J.A.J. McKenna, James Walker, J.A. Coté, S. McLeod [1900-1915]"; RG 15, Series D II 1, vol. 885, file 766,322, title: "J.A.J. McKenna, Half-Breed Commissioner, memo to the Minister "; and RG 15, Series D II 1, vol. 885, file 766,323, title: "J.A.J. McKenna, Half-Breed Commissioner, mode of settling of Half-Breed claims ".
For reports related to investigations under P.C. 1613, 13 August, 1904, see: RG 15, Series, D II 1, vol. 946, file 947739, title: "R.C. MacDonald encloses orders from 114 persons re. their scrip "; RG 15, Series, D II 1, vol. 946, file 948001, title: "R.C. MacDonald, list of persons who appeared before Mr. McKenna and were rejected on preliminary examination "; RG 15, Series, D II 1, vol. 946, file 948015, title: "R.C. MacDonald, list of parties who claimed [1904-05]"; RG 15, Series, D II 1, vol. 946, file 948019, title: "R.C. MacDonald, list of persons who appeared before Mr. McKenna and were rejected after examination "; RG 15, Series, D II 1, vol. 946, file 948013, title: "R.C. MacDonald, list of brothers and sisters or persons whose applications were rejected on preliminary examination ".
As well, there are several un-numbered operational files relating to the R.C. Macdonald Commission in RG 15, series D II 8g, vol. 3171. These are entitled: Order-in-Council, 13 August, 1904 - List of Scrip Issued; Half-Breed Claims, List of Orders Filed by R.C. Macdonald; List of Receipts for Scrip; Half-Breed Claims Reserved; Half-Breed Claims Disallowed; and Half-Breed Claims Allowed.
Sittings of the original Commission under McKenna were held at Birtle, Fort Pelly, Winnipegosis, Kinosota, Oak Point, Fort Alexander, Killarney, Oak Lake, Mossomin, Fort Qu'Appelle, Prince Albert, Duck Lake, Battleford, Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Macleod, Calgary, Edmonton, Wetaskiwin, Lacombe, and Winnipeg. McKenna also investigated applications which were already collected by the Alberta-Saskatchewan Commission organized under P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, and which were temporarily withheld for further direction from the Department. These investigations did not require additional sittings.
A total of 2,122 claims were investigated; $55,563.66 in money scrip and 296,564 acres in land scrip were awarded. The summary report on reserved claims, which was published in P.C. 1182, 6 June, 1901, identified another 889 claims, of which 397 were disallowed. Awards for the reserved claims totalled $59,500 in money scrip and 33,600 acres in land scrip. As well, 136 claims for land scrip from Métis who were residents of the United States were later allowed under P.C. 1613, 13 August, 1904.