‘Two-chain’ hearing to begin next week
Legal action initiated by four local bands in 1998 culminates with a Superior Court of Justice hearing regarding the “two-chain shore allowance” that starts next week at the Fort Frances Courthouse.
Couchiching, Naicatchewenin, Nigigoonsiminikaaning (formerly Nicickousemencaning), and Mitaanjigamiing (formerly Stanjikoming) are the plaintiffs in the matter while the Attorney General of Canada, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, and the Corp. of the Town of Fort Frances are the defendants.
The province and federal Department of Indian Affairs originally negotiated an exchange of the 44.5 acres within what’s historically known as the “two-chain shore allowance.”
The bands have said this original survey of the “two-chain shore allowance” land was done erroneously because the surveyor commissioned to survey the neighbouring Agency #1 reserve back in 1876 included land that already was part of the Couchiching reserve.
As well, dam construction in the early 1900s meant only nine acres of the original 44.5 acres exists.
The plaintiffs are looking for a declaration that the lands referred to in the “two-chain allowance” form part of the Agency #1 reserve.
The defendants, meanwhile, are asking the action be dismissed with costs, noting the plaintiffs waited too long to bring their action forward and seek relief.
They also argue the two-chain strip never formed a part of the land agreed to for bands of Treaty #3, as part of the Agency #1 reserve, or otherwise, and that the two-chain strip is a public highway vested in the Town of Fort Frances.
The four bands are represented by lawyer Donald Colborne of Victoria, B.C. while the Town of Fort Frances’ counsel is local lawyer Wesley Derksen.
Department of Justice Canada counsel is John S. Tyhurst while the Ministry of the Attorney General’s counsel is Rebecca Regenstreif.
The hearing will start on Tuesday at 10 a.m. and continue each weekday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. until March 8.
After a break, the hearing will resume March 20-28.
The hearing is open to the public.
In the meantime, Ontario Court, which normally is held at the courthouse, will be convened in Council Chambers at the Civic Centre for the duration of the two-chain hearing.
Family court will be held upstairs at the courthouse.