Monday, 28 April 2014

Callous Disregard for Residents by Six Nations, Federal Conservative Government and Provincial Liberal Government: The Dunnville Grand Island Land Claim

After the horrors of the 2006 "reclamation" (illegal take over) of the Douglas Creek Estates property by Six Nations members, as events unfolded it became crystal clear that the latter had absolutely no empathy or regard for local residents impacted by their actions.  However, it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to state in no uncertain terms that the evidence clearly demonstrates that there is no valid claim attached to that land (lawfully ceded by the Six Nations Chiefs in Council in 1844).  It is also the responsibility of the Provincial Government to stand four square behind their Land Registry system noting that all Crown Patents in the Haldimand Tract are valid and that owners can rest assured that their property rights are guaranteed.  Alas, none of these parties have acted responsibly, with the result that an air of uncertainty lies as a heavy dark cloud over any land transactions within the Haldimand Tract - no title is secure at this point in time.

A classic example of those impacted most directly (other than Henco Industries Ltd.) is the Rowe family who own the Grand Island Bar B Q on Lumber Island between Dunnville and Byng.  They are at present unable to sell his property due to the "contested" nature of the land, and neither the Federal Government nor the Provincial Government will step in to provide the hard evidence that the property was ceded in 1834.  I wonder if there is any evidence that Six Nations is concerned about the suffering of this man and his family - actually I don't wonder, because I know the answer. 

An article in the Sachem, seen here, will provide a sense of what Mr. Rowe was experiencing in 2012.  A comprehensive article is found here under the title, "Businessman's land battle"; or a similar article in "The Dunnville Chronicle" see here.  An update in the Sachem in January 2014, seen here, shows that Mr. Rowe, whose family has owned the property for 131 years, is still faced with the challenge of selling the property.  However the Grand Erie Business Centre is attempting to breath new life into the property since it is considered an asset to the business of the area.

A recent issue of the Sachem confirms that the problem has not gone away, and that Mr. Rowe is still squeezed between competing interests.  In an article of 18 March 2014, entitled, "Douglas Creek Estates:  The economic impact 8 years later" (see here), some local politicians such as the Mayor of Haldimand County, sees reason for optimism, not everyone feels the same way. Former Dunnville business owner David Rowe blames the challenges that he’s had with his business on unresolved land claims.

Rowe was the owner of Grand Island Bar-B-Q in Dunnville, which he has been trying to sell for several years. He said the issue of an unresolved land claim on his property has scared away interested buyers.

“A native land claim affected my property title, which prevented my ability to liquidate the land to pay off my debts,” Rowe said.

According to Rowe, Six Nations elected council, as well as the federal and provincial governments, have informed him about the claim on his 115-acre family property.

Lonny Bomberry, solicitor and lands and resources director with Six Nations elected council, confirmed that Six Nations started a legal process with the government concerning Rowe’s property in 1995, but the issue remains unresolved.

“Mr. Rowe’s situation is one of a kind,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MP Diane Finley. “I know that many businesses have had some challenges recovering from the occupation. On the other hand, I know of many that have done very well since then.”

Buyers and sellers of land are not required to consult with Six Nations. Still, Rowe said he believes interested buyers are scared away because they’re not sure if the province will stand behind land title.

Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett said unresolved land claims continue to “cast a chill on business,” particularly the homebuilding and real estate business, eight years after Douglas Creek Estates.

“Unfortunately, people in the housing business have lost confidence that their buying and selling of land has the full support of government when there’s native activists involved,” Barrett said.

However, certain actions need to be taken - now.  The Provincial Government needs to report that a Crown grant was issued, and since the 1830s the land has been recorded in the Ontario Land Registry system, Haldimand County, Cayuga.  The government has to be willing to stand behind the truth, and not capitulate (or simply delay indefinitely) to the false assertions of Six Nations in this matter.  Perhaps this land claim should be set as an example and in the strongest terms state that if Six Nations believes that the Land Registry is in error, they need to produce evidence as to why, after 180 years, they as an outside party can step to the fore, make unwarranted assertions, and cause the financial ruin of a Canadian citizen who has a legally valid deed for his property.

I am very familiar with this property.  It is much like the Arbour in Port Dover where generations of my family have stopped in for a "foot long and a Glow".  At the Grand Island Bar B Q, it was the milkshakes, the rental boats, and the mini golf where my children and their cousins as well as two generations of adults would gather for a day of family get together.  My positive experiences here have led me to examine the facts of this dispute, and as a result stand 100% behind Mr. Rowe and his family in their attempt to seek justice.

The following map from the Haldimand County Atlas of 1879 (Page and Co.) shows that Lumber Island (Grand Island), above and to the right of the green patch in Byng, is part of Dunn Township.

File:Township of Dunn, Haldimand County, Ontario, 1880.jpg

Thus, the land surrenders pertaining to Dunn Township will show the early history of the transfer of ownership from Six Nations to the Crown in order that the latter use monies from the sale of their holdings here to augment the Six Nations Trust Fund.

In a previous blog pertaining to wind turbines, I examined the evidence relating to the surrender of South Cayuga and Dunn Townships.  I will repeat the information here.

Surrender Number 38 occurred on 8 February 1834, ten years prior to the general surrender of 1844, 21 of the "Sachems or Chiefs" of the Six Nations, doth grant, bargain, sell, release, surrender and for ever yield up to "His Majesty William the Fourth", the Township of Dunn, and the parts of Moulton, Canborough, and Cayuga Townships (later split into North and South Cayuga Townships) not already surrendered.  Those who signed included Henry Brant, Oneida Joseph, Jacob Martin, John [Smoke] Johnson, Laurence Davids, William Alvis, and Jacob Johnson, all well known and respected chiefs who participated in the surrenders of the 1840s which resulted in the Reserve taking its present shape.  See, Canada, Indian Treaties and Surrenders from 1680 to 1890, Vol.1, The Queen's Printer, Ottawa, 1891, pp. 91-94.  Soon after the surrender, Crown patents were issued to purchasers for the 100 acre lots that had been surveyed by Lewis Burwell, and the deeds were registered on title, and can be found to this day in the Land Registry Office in Cayuga.  So this begs the question, how can Six Nations claim "unceded" land in a parcel that was surrendered in its entirety, even the portion including the Grand River itself, in 1834.

In case Six Nations are trying to ferret out slight imperfections in the wording of the documents to further their probe for any "weaknesses" in order to try and recover lands to which there is not a hint of legal rights.  The surrender also mentions that the surrender, includes the waters of the Grand river, and furthermore, Together with all the woods and waters thereon lying and being, all and singular the rights, privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging, to have and to hold the said parcel or tract of land and premises, with their and every their appurtenances unto His said Majesty (pp.92-3).

It is unclear why Mr. Rowe's property is being singled out, but I recall a blockade and work stoppage in the 1980s on the lands immediately upriver on the opposite (north) side of the bridge connecting Dunnville and Byng.

Whatever Six Nations thinks they are owed or own, they are wrong.  The Federal Government needs to stand up and publically (not just in newspaper interviews with Department of Indian and Northern Affairs officials) announce that the records in the Indian Affairs Papers, RG10 Series, clearly and unequivocally show, along with the above surrender, that the lands have been correctly placed in the Ontario Land Registry system.  It is the duty of the Province to assert in the strongest terms that they stand behind their Land Registry, and if necessary then both levels of Government need to take Six Nations to Court should they ever attempt another work stoppage in the Grand Island (or other Haldimand Tract) area.  At that point a Court Injunction will be issued and if Six Nations HDI, CAP or other groups or individuals violate the Order in any manner, then fines and prison time will ensue if blatantly illegal activities here do not stop.  Someone needs to grow a set of .........., and show some teeth.

The evidence, based on my 35 years of research into the relevant records, and those presented to Justice Harrison Arrell of the Ontario Superior Court in Brantford in a recent Court ruling, needs to be made public, and someone in government grow a backbone to protect the legitimate rights of the citizens of Ontario and Canada.



  1. Dear DeYo,
    I just stumbled on to your blog several days ago and I want to thank you very much for turning attention to our family’s trying and difficult state of affairs to your readership and hopefully more readers beyond.
    Although the property has apparently been sold which in my opinion was done so in a fraudulent and unethical manner, I continue to seek justice with the help of many dedicated supporters.
    Brilliantly done!
    Please note: Only the Sachem articles have working links(“here”) but the Dunnville Chronicle’s “Businessman's Land Battles” article link cannot be found so I took the liberty to post another link to the same article here:
    David J. Rowe
    Grand Island Bar-B-Q/
    Lumber Island Company Limited

  2. Hello David,

    Thanks for your comment. I am only too pleased to do my bit to try to seek justice for your family. It is a very cut and dried matter, and if the Courts were to follow the lead of Justice Harrison Arrell of the Superior Court in Brantford and obtain a factual report based on the data in the RG10 (Indian Affairs) Papers, it should be a slam dunk for your side.

    I wish you the very best in seeking to obtain justice. With the truth squarely on your side hopefully it is just a matter of time.

    Will edit in the link you provided. Thanks. DeYo.

  3. Thank you DeYo for your clarity on the issue...incredible situation for such a clear cut case. Thinking of you David and your family! Kirsty

  4. We are going through exactly the same thing in Sauble Beach. I have contacted almost every major news source in Ontario about my strory and they won't touch it or even acknowledge it.

    Dave Dobson

  5. My understanding, on the Cayuga issues, the feds gave the Provincial Libs a bag of $$ and told them settle the claims - money went elsewhere and we know the situation there now. As for Sauble I understand the Libs have put off any court proceedings unitl 2018....after the next election. So you know what part they are going to take in settling the Sauble claim. We need to stand up to the aboriginals and force them to honour our laws and rights. Fight back.......

  6. Dave, there are strong parallels between what the people of Sauble Beach are forced to endure, and our situation here in Caledonia. With both the Federal and Provincial Governments willing to turn a blind eye to our plight we are left on our own to fend for ourselves. If push came to shove and some people in Ontario took it upon themselves to form citizen militias, I would not be in the least surprised - as Chicago says, we must fight back. Only cowards stand idly by and allow thugs to run rough shod over them. When the OPP refuses to assist us, do we really have an alternative?

  7. Finding a law firm willing and competent in my matters has been frustrating but I press on. In my search I spoke with a lawyer who disagreed with your “Callous Disregard.…” post. I explained that both Governments failed to support my ownership. They said “Even if the Governments failed you they would need to owe you a legal duty which they breached in order for you to potentially have a cause of action. …” I was a little surprised since this law firm found favour with Judge Arrell in defending the City between Six Nations. Your thoughts...?

  8. David, I am not a lawyer, but if the Ontario Government is unwilling to stand by its Land Registry system in your case, on what pretext could they then defend the rights to any other private property on land with a Crown Patent? It simply defies logic. I would speak with another lawyer who can better understand that this should not be a complicated case. You own property to which a Crown Patent was issued in the 1840s - why should your property be viewed as in any way different from similarly patented land across the bridge in Dunnville, or at Bloor and Eglington in Toronto for that matter? If the lawyer speaking of your reasonable expectation to receive compensation by suing the Federal and Provincial Governments, I am not qualified to render any legal opinion - only to offer my total support for your cause. My role is to bring to the attention of all that based on the documents in the RG10 Indian Affairs Papers at the National Archives, Six Nations have zero legal rights to lands outside the present boundaries of I.R. 40 - all lands outside these boundaries were fully surrendered before 1850 when Lord Elgin wrote his report. I wish I could be of more material service in your case, all of the research I have done clearly supports your ownership in fee simple - but it will take a knowledgeable lawyer to use this research in Court to prove the case.

    1. Dear Administration,
      I can’t thank you enough for your Blog bringing my family’s plight to the forefront. Like Mr. Dobson in Sauble Beach, media and local Governments remain indifferent to our matters. Even Judge Neubold was ignored by the Min. of Justice indicated by the Judge in his letter he wrote to the Sauble Beach Council regarding his concerns as an affected property owner in the same area … incredible!
      However, your expertise in archival research and support have been more than helpful to me to the chagrin of those who allowed this horrible conundrum to fester.
      In spite of my recent and untimely heart attack, I still endeavour to seek a willing and competent law firm even though most are reluctant once they realize my matter involves Aboriginal Land claims and taking on Governments; not to mention my inability to fund such a case.
      If I may, should you have any suggestions in seeking a willing & knowledgeable firm please feel free to contact me. I have provided my e-mail address in my original post for any confidentiality & privacy concerns.
      Once again I extend my deepest gratitude for your material service & support.
      Thank you.
      David J.Rowe

  9. I am grieved over the complications over the land. All good Stuarts of the Creators earth know of whom it ultimately belongs. Saying this I remember the good and fun our family experienced while my parents were alive. The island is a special place that offered local employment and a treasured historical treasure to Haldimand. My parents respected our Big Brother to the best of sincerity supporting local national pow wow and that respect. Again John sorry for the grief that you have experienced. But thank you for sharing your hard work with open arms we acknowledge your heart and those who support you. Sincerely someone you have blessed!

    1. Dear John Gallo,
      I am deeply moved by your post and very happy to know that you have been sincerely blessed and that you and your family have fond memories of the island ... a historically special and a treasured place. My battle however continues over the island’s land matters but I remain very hopeful along with many supporters that justice will prevail. Thank you very very much for sharing your thoughts.
      David John Rowe