The Council of Keewatin
was an unelected legislative body and territorial government for the now-defunct District of Keewatin
. The District of Keewatin was created by the passage of the Keewatin Act
on April 12, 1876 from a portion of Canada
's North West Territories
. Lieutenant Governor Alexander Morris
convinced the government that the new territorial government of the North West Territories would be unable to effectively administer land to the north and east of Manitoba. Shortly after the District of Keewatin was formed a large group of Icelanders arrived, infected with smallpox which quickly spread to the indigenous First Nation population. The Government of Canada allowed the Council to be formed for the purpose of containing the smallpox
epidemic. The Council also administered Indian treaty claims, immigrant land claims, Hudson's Bay Company trading post concerns as well as policing and health care. The Council lasted from November 25, 1876, until April 16, 1877, after which control of the territory was returned under federal jurisdiction.
The founder of the Council of Keewatin as well as the District of Keewatin was Alexander Morris. He selected and appointed the members to serve after being given permission by the Government of Canada. After the Council was disbanded in 1877, the legislation passed and departments organized by the council, such as the Boards of Health and Quarantine, continued to remain in force as late as 1878. The council was not reconstituted before the District of Keewatin was ceded back to the Northwest Territories in 1905. All matters of administration were handled by the Government of Canada and the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba.