By: Trish Rae, Researcher, Mohawks Bay of Quinte
Simcoe Deed, Date: 1st April 1793, (220 years ago)
In the years after the Landing on the shores of the Bay of Quinte in 1784, Captain John Deserontyon pressed the government for a deed to the land. It took almost 9 years. But on the 1st of April 1793, Captain John Deserontyon and Captain Isaac Hill attended a meeting at the Council Chamber, Navy Hall in the County of Lincoln. His Excellency John G. Simcoe, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, The Honourable William Osgoode, Chief Justice for Upper Canada, and The Honourable Peter Russell, all members of the Executive Council for Upper Canada were present. At this meeting a report was read and approved. It described the lands to be “reserved for the Mohawk Indians at the Bay of Quinte”:
"The tract will then be bounded in front by the Bay of Quinte, between the mouths of the river Shannon, and Bowen's creek, about twelve miles - westerly by a line running north sixteen degrees west, from the west side of the mouth of the river Shannon, and easterly by a line running north sixteen west, from the mouth of Bowen's Creek, - and northerly by a line running east sixteen degrees north, and west sixteen degrees south at the distance of about thirteen miles back, from the bay of Quinte, measured on the western boundary [?]
aforesaid to the north east angle of the township of Thurlow"
It was resolved at this meeting that this reserve for the Mohawk Indians settled on the bay of Quinte “be carried into execution and for that purpose that a grant be directed to be made under the great seal of the Province in favor
of the principal Chiefs, on behalf of their nations (or tribe, as above mentioned), or persons in trust for them forever.”
The grant that followed this resolution is known as the Simcoe Deed and also known as Treaty 3 ½.
The words of the Simcoe Deed are clear in the reasons for the granting of the land, it says:
Know ye that Whereas the Attachment and Fidelity of the Chief Warriors and
People of the Six Nations to Us and so Our Government have been made manifest on divers occasions by their spirited and zealous exertions and by the bravery of their conduct and We being desirous of shewing our approbation of the same, and in recompense of the losses they may have sustained of providing a convenient tract of land under our protection for a safe and comfortable retreat for them and their posterity.
The words of the Simcoe Deed say the land is given and granted “unto the Chiefs Warriors Women and people of the said Six Nations and their Heirs for ever”. The land is granted to “them and their heirs for ever freely and clearly of and from all manner of Rents, fines or services whatsoever to be rendered by them the said Chiefs, Warriors Women and People of the said Six Nations to us or our successors for the same and of and from all conditions, stipulations and agreements whatever except as hereinafter by Us expressed and declared;”
The Simcoe Deed goes on to say that that land is given and granted “and by these presents confirming to the said Chiefs, Warriors, Women and People of the said Six Nations and their Heirs the full and entire possession, Use, benefit and advantage of the said District or Territory of Land to be held and enjoyed by them in the most free and ample manner and according to the several customs and Usages by them the said Chiefs, Warriors, Women and People of the said Six Nations.
Provided always and be it understood to be the true intent and meaning of these Presents that for the purpose of assuring the said Lands as aforesaid to the said Chiefs Warriors Women and People of the Six Nations and their Heirs and of securing to them the free and undisturbed possession and enjoyment of the same.”
The lands were to be protected from trespassers, illegal alienations, and leases, but the Simcoe Deed provided a method whereby the land could be surrendered to the Crown under certain circumstances.
The document was made Letters Patent and the Great Seal of the Province was affixed.
Despite the noble words there have been trespassers, illegal alienations and leases. There have been surrenders. But the land of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is still held by the Chiefs, Warriors, Women and People of the Six Nations.
The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte are still here - A community older than Canada, older than Upper Canada. And the grant for the land, the Simcoe Deed, is 220 years old this year.