The story of the transfer of the British garrison from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828 and the migration of voyageurs connected with the post has never been told in print. In the following notes Mr. Osborne has endeavored to gather this story from the lips of the few survivors who migrated at that time. Descendants of French-Canadians largely predominated in this movement, but we also get glimpses of what a strange and heterogeneous people once gathered around Mackinaw and Drummond Island, especially about the time of the coalition of the two fur companies in 1821. The migrant voyageurs settled principally near Penetanguishene, in the township of Tiny, Simcoe County. Offshoots of the band settled at Old Fort Ste. Marie, at Fesserton and Coldwater, and another south of Lake Simcoe, near Pefferlaw, York County. These notes will form a useful supplement to Joseph Taase’s “Les Canadiens de l’Ouest.”
In 1828 the transfer of the British garrison from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene commenced. A list of voyageurs who resided on Drummond Island at the time of the transfer. In many cases a brief biographical sketch is contained which may provide clues to their ethnicity, family relationships, and the location where they or their ancestors settled.
Jean Baptiste Sylvestre was born in 1813 at Mackinaw, son of a fur trader and half breed. His narrative details his life while living at Penetanguishene.
The records from the register at Michilimackinac are here provided as they were translated by Edward O. Brown back in 1889. His translation came from a transcript of the original, which latter is kept in the parish church of Ste. Anne, at Mackinac. Annotated throughout are Mr. Brown’s biographical knowledge of the events of Michilimackinac and the people within. Don’t pass over the footnotes for the record, you may find a biographical reference hidden there!
No more colorful settlement existed in the Middle West than the mission and fort at the Straits of Mackinac, for the French early realized its importance and directed their westward explorations from this base. The concentration point for the fur trade of the Middle West, Mackinac held an important place for many years, both during the British and American regimes.