Organizational history of La Société de colonisation du Manitoba
La Société de colonisation du Manitoba was founded in early 1874 by the Roman Catholic Church in St. Boniface to encourage and facilitate French Catholic immigration to Manitoba. The society forwarded its demands to Ottawa shortly thereafter: land reserved for French-speaking block settlement along the Red River under the same conditions as those for land set aside for the Icelandic and Mennonite immigrants, the appointment of an immigration agent to assist French-Canadians living in the U.S. to immigrate to Manitoba, and preferential travel arrangements for these families. The first two requests were granted, but the government was not prepared to commit to the third for another two years. The Société maintained its pressure on the government to continue providing travel assistance to repatriated families, but became relatively inactive during the 1880s. It was revived about 1890 under the leadership of Thomas-Alfred Bernier, and lobbied for settlement bonuses for French-Canadian families arriving in Manitoba from the United States. At the request of Archbishop Langevin, the Société also sent a petition to Ottawa requesting lay immigration agents in the U.S. to support the work done by the religious agents, more French-speaking personnel at the immigration bureau in Winnipeg, the establishment of an information bureau for new settlers, and the reservation of land under the jurisdiction of local chapters of the Société in the French-speaking parishes of the province. During the Laurier years, the conservative Roman Catholic Church distanced itself from Ottawa, turning rather to the provincial Conservative government under Roblin for support. The Société, however, was guided by the French Liberal elite from St. Boniface, and continued to pressure Ottawa to achieve its settlement goals.