Adoption of Macdonald's National Policy

Macdonald’s National Policy focused on expanding the country, linking it sea to sea using a transcontinental railroad, encouraging Western settlement (by Euro-Canadians), and encouraging domestic production with protective tariffs. In order to accomplish this, Indigenous lands in the west had to be surrendered for railroad construction and land settlement, which depended on the 'control' of its Indigenous population; for instance, this was manifested through treaty and reserve policies. In 1878, Macdonald made himself head of the Department of the Interior, giving himself ultimate control over settlement policy and Indigenous policy in the North-West.


Tobias, John L. “Protection, Civilization, Assimilation: An Outline History of Canada’s Indian Policy.” Western Canadian Journal of Anthropology 6.2 (1976)

Indigenous peoples were displaced from a considerable amount of their land, and those who were treaty signatories were placed on reserves. In some cases, reserves were far from their traditional territory as land along the railway route was bought to and land was set aside for the settlement of Europeans. These changes would cause long term effects; restricting the movement of Indigenous peoples and relocating them off their traditional lands knowingly caused effects of starvation and disease as settlers moved westward.
Rural or Urban
Start Date