Discover your family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

Start Now

The Winter Of 1874-5.

By the time winter set in, the walls of the new Shingwauk Home were erected and the roof on, but beyond this nothing could be done until spring. However, we could not wait for the new building to be completed before re-organizing our work. The two frame cottages, already mentioned, had been finished and furnished, and these we intended to utilize for the present. The first pupil to arrive, singularly enough, was named Adam, Adam Kujoshk, from Walpole Island. We had eighteen pupils altogether, boys and girls; a lady was engaged to act as matron and school teacher; they had lessons and meals in a large common room in one of the cottages, and in this one the matron and the girls resided. The other was occupied by the laundress and the boys. For ourselves we had engaged an old house at the Point, not more than half a mile distant across the bay; so all fitted in very well. It was a hard winter, but the children kept well, and they had a merry and a happy Christmas. On Christmas morning we all drove in to the Sault to church; such a sleigh load–twenty, I think, altogether,–some sitting, some standing or hanging on, and two brisk ponies to pull. Then there was the Christmas dinner of roast beef and plum pludding, to which all the children did ample justice; and in the evening they came over to our house, and we had a few amusements for them, and sang some Christmas hymns. New Year’s night was the time fixed for the Christmas Tree and the prize-giving. Prizes were...

The Opening Of The First Shingwauk Home.

On June 3rd, 1873, the contract for the erection of the new Industrial Home was signed. It was to cost 1550 dollars, and to be completed by August 25th. The specifications showed that it was to be a frame building, having, with the old parsonage, a frontage of 100 feet, two stories high, with verandah in front for each flat; suitable farm buildings were also to be erected on the land in the rear. It was interesting to us to watch the progress of the work day by day, to see the walls rising up, the partitions made between the rooms, and at length the roof put on and shingled. The plastering was not yet done when the first batch of children arrived. They came from our old Mission at Sarnia, and were accompanied by Mr. Jacobs. Their names were Mary Jane, Kabaoosa, Mary-Ann Jacobs, Betsey Corning, Eliza Bird, John Rodd, Tommy Winter (who was at Kettle Point); also Nancy Naudee and Jimmy Greenbird, from Walpole Island. It was difficult to find accommodation for them all, as the rooms were not ready; however, we managed to pack them in. It was just at this time that the district of Algoma, with Parry Sound and Muskoka, was set apart by the Church as a Missionary Diocese, and on the 10th September,1873, Archdeacon Fauquier, of the Huron Diocese, was elected our first Missionary Bishop. His consecration was appointed to take place October 28th. And now I must tell about the opening of our Home, which took place on Monday, the 22nd of September. It was a fine bright day, and preparations...

The Bishop’s Visit.

We were now well settled into our Indian home at Sarnia and my work was clearly defined. The Sarnia Reserve was our head-quarters. Here there were some 400 Indians, and at Kettle Point, thirty miles away, were about 100 more. The out-stations were to be New Credit, Saugeen, and Cape Croker, which places together contained about 1150 Indians. The idea was to place a catechist at each of these distant settlements, and for me to visit them twice or three times in the year. With the view of providing catechists suitable for the work I was authorized by the Church Missionary Society to receive and educate some young men; and within a few months after we had taken up our residence on the Reserve I commenced to teach two young Indians, named Wilson Jacobs and William Henry, with the view of their becoming catechists. The great event of the summer was a visit we received from the Bishop of Huron and Mrs. Cronyn. The fact that twenty-five persons were confirmed, and that forty-five came forward afterwards to receive the Holy Communion, will show that our work among these poor Indians had already made some progress. Among the candidates for confirmation was poor old Quasind, who came up bare-footed, a great-grandfather, and, I suppose, about ninety years of age. In the evening our own child, Archibald Edward, was christened during the time of Divine service by the Bishop. The following day we had appointed to have a gathering of Indians, a sort of social party, to meet the Bishop. When morning broke, however, rain was pouring in torrents, and a...

Our Arrival At Sarnia.

Mrs. Walker’s boarding-house was a frame, white-painted house situate in the town of Sarnia, a little way back from the main street. The Indian Reserve almost adjoined the town, so that a quarter of an hour’s walk would take us on to their land. In front of the town and flowing down past the Indian Reserve is the broad river St. Clair, connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie, its banks on the Canadian side dotted over with the boats and fishing nets of the Indians. I at once invested in a horse and buggy, and also engaged Wagimah as my interpreter. I could already read the service in Indian, but required an interpreter’s aid for conversing with the people and preaching. Our Sunday services were held in a vacant log hut, in which we had a little desk rigged up and some forms arranged as seats. On my first Sunday among them I baptized two children, an infant in arms named Jacob Gray, and a child of four or five named Thomas Winter. Both of these boys some nine or ten years afterwards became pupils at the Shingwauk Home. Our great object now was to build a log church and also a Mission house for our own use with as little delay as possible. There was a quaint old Indian, or rather half-breed, for he was partly French, with whom I had some conversation in regard to our proposed operations. “Well, Mr. Leviere,” I said to him one day, “what do you think the Indians will be willing to do? Will they cut down the trees,–square and haul the...

Mission Work At Sarnia.

After settling in at our new home on the Sarnia Reserve, a great part of my time was taken up in exploring through the Bush and visiting the Indians in their houses. We found one very piteous case of a poor woman in the last stage of consumption. The poor creature was worn to a skeleton lying on a most miserable looking bed with nothing to cover her but a ragged strip of black funereal-looking cloth. Although so very ill, she was able to answer the questions that Wagimah put to her, and when I offered to read the Bible to her she seemed very glad. She listened most attentively while I read in Ojebway the eighteenth chapter of St. Luke, and told her of the love of Christ in coming to save sinners. Then we knelt, and I offered two prayers for the sick copied into my pocket-companion from the Indian prayer-book. We visited the poor creature several times again, and once Mrs. Wilson accompanied me and brought with her some blanc-mange or jelly which she had made. She was much touched at the sight of the poor creature’s utter destitution. We were amused as we went along to see a pair of babies’ boots hanging on the branch of a tree, evidently placed there by some honest Indian who had chanced to find them on the road. This is what the Indians generally do if they find anything that has been lost,–they hang it up in a conspicuous place, so that the owner may find it again if he comes by the same way. I had been...

Kettle Point.

Besides the four hundred Indians on the Sarnia Reserve, there were about one hundred more living at Kettle Point, thirty miles distant, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. I had not been long settled at Sarnia, when, in company with my interpreter. I started on a first visit to these people. I will describe the journey. Taking the railway as far as Forest, we had to walk on a distance of eight or nine miles. Neither of us knew the country, but a couple of Indians, whom we happened to fall in with, showed us the way. It was nearly two o’clock when we reached David Sahpah’s house. We found the Indians most hospitable; some of them were Methodists, some still pagans, and others members of the Church. They were most desirous of having a Church Mission established among them, as there was no school for their children and no regular services held. Not a single individual, man, woman, or child, could read or write. They were very anxious to have a school-house built and a schoolmaster sent to teach them, indeed some of them had already got out logs with the view of building a school. The Chief’s name was Ahbettuhwahnuhgund (Half a Cloud), a fine, broad-shouldered, intelligent-looking man, but still a pagan, although he had had several of his children baptized in the Church. There was also a large family named Shaukeens, all of whom were pagans, and several others. They seemed, however, to have advanced more in their farming operations than the Sarnia Indians. The Chief had a capital house with several rooms in it,...

First Visit To Garden River.

We met with a hearty welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Chance, though we had never seen them before. Their church and Mission-house and little log school-house were picturesquely situated on rising ground quite close to the river. The Mission-house, which occupied the centre of the three buildings, was constructed of logs clapboarded over and whitewashed. It had a verandah in front, over the trellis work of which hops grew in profusion, and clambered upwards to the roof. In front of the house was a neat little garden, with two or three fir-trees, some lilac bushes, and well-filled flower-beds. There was quite a profusion of roses, which, even at this late season of the year, scented the air deliciously. Outside the garden fence with its green gate, was a field of Indian corn which sloped down almost to the water’s edge. The view from the steps of the verandah was very pretty; one could see the broad deep St Maria River, nearly a mile wide, and long lines of sailing vessels towed by small tugs, occasionally passing and repassing on their way from the upper to the lower lakes. Across the river were the well-wooded hills of Sugar Island, with here and there a settler’s shanty and clearing. To the left hand could still be seen the broad river winding its course down toward Lake George, the smaller stream, called Garden River, joining it a short distance below. Then behind, the scene was equally, if not more grand–high rocky hills scantily clad with fir and birch-trees. We felt that we were now indeed in the land of the Indian, far...

First Missionary Experiences.

My first service among the Indians was held in a little log-house on the Indian Reserve, at Sarnia (south of Lake Huron), on Sunday, July 26th. Twenty-two Indians of the Ojebway tribe were present. They all seemed most anxious to have a Church of England Mission established in their midst, as many of them, inclusive of their venerable old chief, Wawanosh, were already members of the Church, and had been from time to time visited by a Missionary. I promised to visit them again on my return from other Indian settlements and see what could be done. The following day, Monday, I took train to Toronto, and thence to Collingwood, from which place I intended to branch off to Owen Sound and visit the Cape Croker and Saugeen Indians. I had with me as interpreter a young Indian named Andrew Jacobs, his Indian name being Wagimah-wishkung, and for short I called him Wagimah. At Owen Sound we met with some Cape Croker Indians, and engaged their boat and two men to take us the following day to their settlement, about forty miles up the Lake Shore. Soon after four the next morning we were up and dressed, and an hour later were on our way. It was fine, but rather foggy, and the sun scarcely visible through the mist. Not a breath of wind was stirring, so we had to keep to our oars, sometimes one and sometimes another rowing. At noon we reached Commodore Point, and put in for about an hour, spending our time in eating raspberries, which were growing in the greatest profusion, and bathing in...

Pin It on Pinterest