During the reign of the great Queen Victoria, settlers, mostly from “Old Ontario”, steamed up the “Queen of Rivers” from Lake of the Woods to the Chapple area. In order to settle Western Canada, the Dominion of Canada passed The Dominion Lands Act in 1883. This Act stated that any person who had attained the age of eighteen years, was entitled to obtain entry for a homestead (quarter section) on payment of a fee of ten dollars. the holders of a homestead entry had six months from the date of entry to take possesion and commence residence duties (to be performed during a three year period)
The residence duties involved erecting a dwelling upon the homestead, and living six months in residence there for each or three calendar years. The cultivation duties were:
a) Before 1 June, 1908 – a homesteader was required to bring fifteen acres under cultivation.
b) After 1June, 1908 – a homesteader had to bring thirty acre under cultivation of which twenty acres must be cropped.
The homesteader could not apply for a patent (document showing ownership) until the full three years had elapsed from the date of entry. It was required that he apply within five years from the date of entry.
After recieving a patent for a quarter section, a homesteader could apply for a pre-emption which entitled him to puchase at the rate of one dollar per acre, an additional 80 acres adjacent to the homestead [later changed to three dollars per acre]. The 1887 Rainy River Free Grants and Homesteads Act of Ontario was offered nearly the same oppurtunities, but was enacted after the district was given to “Old Ontario” in 1884. The Act claimed that all pine trees, many of which became the mast poles of Her Majesty’s ships, along with any mineral shall be the property of her Majesty.
Some of Selkirk’s settlersm many of them habitants from Quebec, came via the Rainy River near the beginning of the eighteen hundreds and continued west to become the historic St. Boniface settlement at the meeting of the Red River and the Assiniboine, i.e. The Forks. In the 1870s, after the construction of the Dawson Trail, up to 1200 people paid the fee of $10.00 to Fort Garry from the Lakehead, After the CPR was built the Dawson Trail was abandoned and between 1883 and 1910, settlers arrived in an ever-increasing tide. Most came from Eastern Ontario, some from south of the border, and a surprising number were returnees from western Canada. After the Canadian Pacific Railway linked Thunder Bay to Winnipeg via Kenora in 1884, people rode the railway to Kenora, and then went through Lake of the Woods by steamboat. In 1901, the Canadian National Railway was completed from the west, and as soon as the eastern link to Fort Frances was completed the following year, people travelled the entire route by rail.