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Montreal Lake Cree Nation

Following their move from Grand Rapids at the northwestern end of Lake Winnipeg to the Montreal Lake region in the mid-1800s, the band signed an adhesion to Treaty 6 on February 11, 1889, under Chief William Charles, and its reserve was surveyed at the southern end of Montreal Lake in 1890. The Little Red River Reserve, surveyed in 1897 for the joint agricultural use of the Montreal Lake and Lac La Ronge Bands, was divided between the two in 1948. Little Red River Reserve (106B) is situated 39 km north of Prince Albert and currently hosts a sub-office with a band hall, health centre, day care, group home, and confectionery/gas outlet. The first Hudson’s Bay Company post, constructed at Montreal Lake in 1891 in response to the establishment of the reserve, became the freighting depot for goods coming in and going out of the region. Until the late 1920s band members found ready employment as labourers and suppliers. Horses gave way to caterpillars, and airplanes and trucks started arriving by the end of the 1920s. An all-weather road was completed in 1937; whereas it significantly reduced labour employment, it also created a niche in early tourism as summer tourists began flowing into Montreal Lake in significant numbers. Forestry, recreation, and tourism remain important to the economy of the band. The Montreal Lake Development Corporation (1985) has four subsidiary band-owned companies, and shares with the Lac La Ronge and Peter Ballantyne bands in three others. The Montreal Lake, Little Red River, Timber Bay, and Weyakwin communities form the Montreal Lake Reserve (8,288.8 ha), on which 1,773 of the 3,108 band members live.

Christian Thompson

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