As a result of the land loss that the Métis Nation experienced in Manitoba following the unlawful distribution of lands to the Métis as set out in the Manitoba Act (1870), many Métis families who were swindled out of their lands or were experiencing violence, discrimination and racism during the Reign of Terror period left what was then known as the ‘postage stamp province’ and headed further west, north, and south into the northern United States. This is often referred to as the ‘mass exodus’ from the Red River Settlement. While many Métis families left Manitoba, others stayed and were subject to many social, economic, and political hardships because of their identity, often resulting in further dispossession of their lands. This occurred again in 1885 following the Northwest Resistance in present-day Saskatchewan.
As a predominantly landless population, Métis families would become known as ‘squatters’ because they would find vacant parcels of Crown land to stay for a while or build their log homes, most often on what was known as ‘the road allowances’. The term ‘road allowance’ refers to the areas that the government had set aside to build future roads until such a time that they were ready to do so. In southern Manitoba, there were several road allowance communities (to name a few) including Rooster Town, Ste. Madeleine, Dog Patch, and Tin Town. When it came time for development of the roads, or the land on which those communities had settled, Métis families were forced to relocate and harshly evicted and displaced.
Read more about Métis Road Allowance communities1.
Further resources for reading on Ste. Madeleine and Rooster Town:
Fleury, G. M. (2016). Preserving our past: Kanawayihtamaahk li taan paasi Ste. Madeleine, Manitoba. Louis Riel Institute.
Zeilig, K., & Zeilig, V. (1987). Ste. Madeleine: Community without a town: Métis Elders in interview. Pemmican Publications.
Peters, E., Stock, M., & Werner, A. (2018). Rooster Town: The history of an urban Métis community, 1901–1961. University of Manitoba Press.
- Métis Road Allowance Communities (https://indigenouspeoplesatlasofcanada.ca/article/road-allowance-people/)