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The Migration of Voyageurs from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828

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.”

List of the Drummond Island Voyageurs

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.

Narrative of Michael Labatte

Michael Labatte, a typical French-Canadian voyageur, lives on an island in Victoria Harbor (Hogg Bay). His family history and descent is an interesting one. He claims over one quarter Indian blood, but the aboriginal element in his nature is most unmistakably marked. His father went up to the North-West in the closing years of the last century, and probably accompanied the British army in their first move to “Sault Ste. Marie” and St. Joseph Island, on the first transfer of Mackinaw to the Americans in 1796. He also formed one of the contingent of one hundred and sixty French-Canadian voyageurs accompanying Mr. Pothier, under Captain Roberts, at the capture of Mackinaw by the British in July, 1812, and three years later he moved to Drummond Island with the British forces on the second transfer of Mackinaw to the Americans, and finally to Penetanguishene. For a man of his years (over 85) Michael is vigorous and alert, and his memory is apparently intact. Narrative of Michael Labatte I was born at Sault Ste. Marie (on the American side) in 1814, the last year of the war, my mother being there on a visit to friends at the time, though our home was on Drummond Island. My father was Louis George Labatte, a blacksmith by trade, who was born in Lower Canada. He was a soldier in the British Army, and was at the capture of Mackinaw in 1812. He went up from Montreal with the North-West Company, and moved from Mackinaw with the British soldiers to Drummond Island. My mother’s name was Louisa Cadotte, a Chippewa, from whom I learned...

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