33 In service
The Electoral District Survey was the first major government presence in Western Canada and there were many opportunities to misinterpret the Commission's intentions. At the time, the only surrendered territory was the one negotiated when Treaties 1 and 2 were signed. In the territories, there was a tense atmosphere among Aboriginal people who felt that times were changing and that the resources they always needed diminished.
The 49th Rangers accompanied the border commission's investigation.
Morris acknowledged the need to work around the misunderstanding. The government had a keen interest in peacefully acquiring land in the northwest. They did not have the resources to suppress an uprising, and the violence would certainly complicate the conclusion of the treaties and the settlement that would follow. He suggested that "Indians should be advised by men in whom they trust the true meaning of boundary surveys". The Border Commissioners therefore employed a troupe of 33 Metis scouts who knew not only the terrain's configuration, but also traveled ahead of the main party and explained its purpose of being there. (The American Survey, on the other hand, was accompanied by 70 infantry and 160 cavalry as protection.)
The scouts were nicknamed the "49th Rangers", and led by famed hunter and buffalo fighter William Hallett. In addition to being a military escort, their role was to serve as guides and hunters, marking trails and finding appropriate campgrounds. They also brought information to western First Nations. They explained the purpose of the survey, distributed gifts as a sign of goodwill and promised that the government would soon conclude treaties with them. As a result, the commissioners were allowed to cross the unceded territory, not only unscathed, but welcomed as friends and benefactors.