The Agreement between Her Majesty Queen Victoria and the York Farmers Colonization Company May 25th, 1882
Definition: A charter is a written grant/agreement/indenture by a country's legislative power by which an institution such as a company is created. It is both a privilege and a responsibility for all involved.
A Colonization Dream
Lands in Western Canada were being surveyed, and there was a wave of excitement in Eastern Canada — the Dominion Government would soon be advertising these lands for settlement. It was on June 9, 1880 that the dream to help colonize the western interior of Canada was fashioned by a group of businessmen in Toronto, Ontario. It started becoming a reality when three men out of the group, James Armstrong, J. J. Cook and R.N. Taylor, boarded a train at the Parkdale station in suburban Toronto to travel west having in mind to check out those lands for themselves in view of organizing a settlement.
Because there was not yet a railway in Western Canada, the train they boarded took them to Detroit and other places in western United States. Likely, when they had reached Minneapolis St Paul in the State of Minnesota, they wended their way northward to Winnipeg in wagons pulled by oxen and using Native people as guides. Trails were rough, and they were bogged down a good number of times in gullies and ravines. Once in Winnipeg, they stocked up for the trip west, very likely stopping at Fort Ellice (Manitoba) for more supplies and directions to the townships they had chosen to check out. These were Townships in the area which was to become the Yorkton district.
It is believed that they camped in the vicinity of what today is known as the Armstrong Lake district, a few kilometers north east of Yorkton.
After their return to Toronto, they got together with Nathaniel Clarke Wallace, who was a member of Parliament for York West since 1878, as well as A.G. Lightbourn, and others to start talks on the formation of a colonization company. They were not the only ones who wanted to partake of the dream, so there was some competition with other colonization companies being founded.
What role did the company play in the colonization scheme? The officials who would be present in the chosen colony would act as paid Homestead Agents for the Government, helping settlers choose their homesteads, helping them file the documents and seeing to their welfare. They would sell quarter sections from the sections of land the company would buy from the Dominion Government to settlers who wanted to expand their farms. The Company would have the authority to lend money, not to open banks, but lend to those who had homesteaded and wanted to build a shelter, and more quickly improve their farms. They could see to building roads, bridges, and arranging services like mail stagecoaches, etc.
By 1882, the group had gathered enough shareholders — more than 100 investors to facilitate the dream. They were worth $300,000. They chose the corporate name the York Farmers Colonization Company. All was in place to apply to the Dominion Government for a charter to do business.
Here is a summary of the terms of the Agreement:
The Indenture (Agreement) was made on the 25th day of May, 1882, between Her Majesty Queen Victoria, herein represented by the Minster of the Interior of Canada, and the York Farmers Colonization Company. All was subject to the terms of the Dominion Lands Act of 1879, and the colonization of lands under the Dominion Land Regulations of December 23, 1881.
Some of the terms of the Agreement were:
•Her Majesty agreed to sell and the Company agreed to buy all the odd numbered sections within the assigned townships for $2.00 per acre. Excluded from this agreement were lands of the Hudson's Bay Company, designated school lands, trails, and highways.
•The townships were:
Township 22, Range 2
Township 23, Range 2
Township 26, Range 4
Township 26, Range 5
Township 27, Range2
Township 27, Range3 All West of the 2nd Meridian
•The company was not to disturb any squatters. If any were found to occupy a part of these lands, the company official was to report it to the Department of the Interior. The matter would have to be referred to the government.
•The company also had no rights to gold, silver, copper, lead and coal.
•The company had 5 years from July 1, 1882 to settle these lands.
•They would be compensated for any land that could be required by a railway company should one be deemed to pass through York Company lands.
•There were 35 clauses to the Agreement.
If all terms were followed, at the termination of the Agreement, Her Majesty would grant the York Farmers Colonization Company, their successors and assigns the Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Canada.
To try to secure the success of this venture, the Company had planned carefully:
•They had chosen top quality lands.
•The Company officials invited experienced farmers from Ontario, Manitoba and the British Isles to join them in this new colonization venture. Some, likely most, of these settlers had enough money to come and survive in the new colony.
•On their way to explore the new lands, in the previous 2 years, they had seen the Manitoba experience. Winnipeg was a thriving center in 1882, with about 9,000 in population. Fort Ellice, a Hudson's Bay post was a good supply centre a hundred miles away from their destination. The Dominion Government had seen to the successful homesteading of Manitoba since 1872. Thus, if settlement had been successful in Manitoba, at the time a smaller province, it could be achieved in the new lands they were planning to colonize.
•There were promises of railways to be built in various spots, one to go through York Colony. It was in the plans of survey that the Manitoba & North Western Railway would pass through the village.
In 1883, the York Farmers Colonization Company was assigned two more townships: Township 25 and 26 in Range 3, west of the 2nd Meridian. The Company officials signed another charter dated June 15, 1883.
City of Yorkton, Box 400
37 Third Avenue North
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3