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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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CARTER, WILLIAM DOHERTY, non-resident Indian superintendent and lawyer; b. Buctouche, N.B., 5 Oct 1863, s/o James Carter and Margaret Doherty; m. 1st, 1887, Emma Phinney, of Richibucto, N.B., and 2nd, 1897, Mary M. Stevenson, also of Richibucto; d. Vancouver, B.C., 10 Nov 1937.

At age eighteen William D. Carter was the teacher of the advanced department of the school at Tracadie. He later studied law at Dalhousie University, where he led his class in 1884. He was granted an LLB degree in 1886 and was called to the bar in 1887. He practiced in Richibucto as a partner of George V. McInerney, and later on his own.

In 1893, following the death of Charles Sargeant, Carter was named Indian superintendent for the eastern and northern counties of New Brunswick; that is, for all the Micmac reserves in the province. In this office he was perceptive and diligent, but he faced serious difficulties on the Miramichi. Unlike his predecessor he was a non-resident who could not be consulted on a casual basis. In contrast with him too, he had no employment to offer the Indians. And the fact that he was unknown personally to Miramichi politicians resulted in them sometimes giving credence to negative interpretations of his motives and actions.

With Carter as agent, the Indian Affairs Department was determined to have all the outstanding land questions relating to the Micmac reserves settled, once and for all. The status of the Little Southwest lands at Sillikers, Lyttleton, and Halcomb, which had been occupied by non-Indians for sixty years or more, was of particular concern. Carter was to gather information on each property along the Little Southwest branch, obtain the necessary documents of surrender from the Indians, and inform the residents that they would have to purchase their holdings from the federal government. Warren C. Winslow, as representative of the minister of justice in the county, was to be the receiver of the revenues realized from the sales.

It is hardly surprising that in carrying out such instructions Carter made himself unpopular with almost everyone affected. He became a target of the anger of the Red Bank Indians, in particular, who accused him of conniving with Chief Peter N. Julian of Eel Ground to get surrenders of Red Bank lands without their consent. In the end, because the ill-conceived scheme of surrenders and sales exacerbated rather than solved the Indian land problem, he also fell from favor with his employer.

Carter's term as Indian superintendent came to an end in 1908, and later that year he ran unsuccessfully as a Liberal for the Kent County seat in the House of Commons. In 1912 he gave up his law practice in Richibucto and moved to Vancouver. He soon earned an enviable reputation there as a barrister, and in 1921 he was appointed deputy provincial attorney general, with his residence in Victoria. In 1928 he became the official administrator of the city of Vancouver. He retired in 1936. Twice widowed, he was survived in 1937 by two daughters, both of whom were living in the United States.


[b] BC Biographical [m] Advocate 29 Jun 1887; official records [d] official records / Advocate 7 May 1884, 25 Oct 1893; Carter biog. data; Hamilton (JT); Leader 4 May 1983; McAlpine's 1889; O'Leary; PMC; Times 11/13 Nov 1937; World 10 May 1882