Our Reserves

Our Reserves

Further to the terms of Treaty 8, Indian Commissioner David Laird in a February 5, 1900 letter to Indian Affairs urged that Indian Reserves be established quickly in order to avoid complications involving non-Aboriginal settlers‘ claims. About two weeks later, Treaty Commissioner J.A. Macrae was instructed by J. McKenna to visit the bands wanting land and, without encouraging the immediate selection of reserves, to have those Indians stake out the lands they strongly wanted in preparation for an official survey. Following a visit by Mr. McKenna with Duncan Testawich and his Band, Members chose lands they wanted set aside as Indian Reserves in the general vicinity of Peace River Landing.

The land selections of Duncan Testawich and his band were contained in a November 2, 1900 letter written by Sergeant G.D. Butler of the North West Mounted Police‘s Peace River Landing detachment to Indian Commissioner David Laird. Testawich had identified land in the Shaftesbury Settlement located on the northwest side of the Peace River about 24 km (15 miles) upriver from the Smoky/Peace confluence. This settlement had been established in the 1880s by missionary John G. Brick of the Church Missionary Society and was named Shaftesbury after the Society‘s patron in England.

Butler wrote that Duncan Testawich and David Testawich, one of Duncan‘s sons, selected land on a flat 4 miles above the Protestant Mission, meaning the Shaftesbury settlement, the boundaries of which were identified as a creek on this end and a line running nearly N.W. as the other boundary between Duncan Testawich and William Taylor. Duncan‘s band members Xavier Moosewuk [Mooswah] and Modiste [Modeste] Mooswuk [Mooswah] selected land lying south from that of a Beaver man known as L. Eagle [L‘Eagle], who was said to have lived there for a number of years. Land known as the Big Island flat? was selected by Duncan‘s Band Members John Bouchie [Boucher], Pierre Brick, a man said to be another son of the Headman‘s, and Chaunter [Chanteur]. Two Hay Reserves were also selected for Duncan‘s Band Members: one was located where Duncan Testawich cut his hay during 1899 and 1900; the other was situated in the area between Old Wives Lake and the Peace River.

While their land selection indicated that Testawich‘s Band was engaged in farming by the early 1900s, Butler also noted in this letter that not all Members had adopted this new lifestyle. A man known as Deome [Guillaume] Bell, one of Duncan‘s Band Members still expressed a desire to hunt and not farm. Butler wrote, “The posts on all the Farms and Hay Reserves are marked T.I.R. Temporary Indian Reserve.”