During 1878 and 1879 a preliminary South Saskatchewan River survey was conducted on the behalf of the Canadian government. Largely ignoring the presence of the Metis and their river lot land division system, a township surveying system was adopted (six square miles, subdivided into 36 sections, each mile square or 640 acres was divided into four quarter sections of 160 acres).
LAC, MG26, A, 105: 42343, A.M. Burgess to D.L. Macpherson, 18 April 1885. SABR, Suveyors’ Correspondence files, IV, 1 “Halfbreed Grievances in the Prince Albert District, 1884-1886,” V. Végrévilleto E. Deville, 19 January 1884.
The Canadian government was supposed to recognize the river lots of Metis who had settled the region before the survey; however, in many cases this recognition did not occur. Furthermore, the Metis were motivated to assert their rights to their land and river lot system as more agricultural settlers entered the newly surveyed region along the South Saskatchewan River and began practicing agriculture. Various Metis communities sent petitions to the Territorial Government requesting that the land be resurveyed so they could confirm their land title. It was not until the resistance of 1885 that Metis land claims were taken seriously.