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While the Mennonites and the Metis are not often mentioned in the same breath, there are some similarities and significant differences.
One incident, involving the Mennonite delegation inspecting Manitoba in 1873 and the Metis, graphically points out their divergent experience. In June of 1873 the Mennonite delegation led by Mr. Hespeler and 1. Y. Schantz left Winnipeg on an excursion to see the country that lay in the vicinity of the Riding Mountains. On their way back the expedition was overtaken by a Metis on horseback, who proposed a race and struck one of the wagon's horses with a whip. The driver of the team struck back at the horse of the Metis. Following an exchange of blows the Metis horseman, named McKay, left to get his gun vowing to kill the teamster.
Despite being disarmed by two other Metis, McKay persisted and caught up with the Mennonite delegation at a tavern where the party had stopped to water their horses. He again threatened to kill the teamster, heaping abuse on the whole party. An exasperated teamster, having heard enough, knocked him off his horse initiating a general melee.
Other Metis joined McKay vowing to exact revenge on the foreign delegation. The Mennonite party retreated to the house where they held off a group of ten Metis until help arrived. During a lull in the action Hespeler had dispatched a messenger to Fort Garry, a distance of 25 miles, to get help.
The next morning at 5 a.m. a group of fifty soldiers under Colonel Smith arrived and arrested McKay and four other Metis for riotous conduct. 24 This incident, while not typical, points out the degree to which the Mennonites were valued by the Government of Manitoba, and the extent to which Mennonites relied on Government sponsorship and protection. The experience of the Metis was much different.
When Manitoba entered Confederation in 1870 the Metis popula tion of 10,000 was guaranteed 1.5 million acres of land in recognition of their aboriginal rights to the land. These lands were to be laid out in reserves and allotted to individual Metis. By 1877 none of this land had yet been allotted and squatters had been allowed to settle on the land. Because of this delay many Metis left the province losing their land even before they had seen it.
Mennonites were likewise granted two substantial land reserves, but in contrast they were allowed to settle them immediately, even before they had been completely surveyed, or in fact legally reserved. A newspaper account of the Mennonite arrival in 1874 claimed that these Mennonites were "composed of exactly the right sort of stuff. . . for pioneer life, and this taken in connection with the well known frugal habits and thriftiness of Germans ensure their prosperity here" . 25 While