Tag Archives: Mi’kmaq communities

Terrenceville Mi’kmaq

Guest post by Devon Griffin

Esther-Mary-Myles-Mitchell
Esther (Myles) Mitchell

This story is about Terrenceville, Fortune Bay, about 140 years ago. It was told to the late Esther Mary Cox by her grandmother and namesake, Esther Mary (Myles) Mitchell. Mrs. Cox passed the story on to Calvin Hackett when he interviewed her many decades ago. Mr. Hackett and Sheila Parsons Cox told me the story, and it’s one of my favourites. I’ve changed nothing of what they told me, other than to add a bit of context.

Esther Myles (1861-1927) married Michael Mitchell, born Dec. 1845 in Burin. They had seven children.

Summer visits to Terrenceville

Years ago in the summer, during much simpler times, the entire Conne River Mi’kmaq band would travel from Bay d’Espoir down Fortune Bay to stay in Terrenceville. From there, they travelled across the Burin Peninsula to hunt in areas such as Swift Current and Sandy Harbour. In Terrenceville they camped at a place called “River Garden”. It was at the end of the “The Meadow,” close to a barachois called Koskaecodde by the Mi’kmaq ancients.

Terrenceville-photo-Calvin-Hackett
Terrenceville, showing barachois crossing the bay from townsite at mid-right (click to enlarge)

Some of these Mi’kmaq visitors eventually stayed in Terrenceville. They intermarried with European families and have many descendants in the area today.

Esther Mary Myles was the daughter of a European settler family in Terrenceville. She was born about 1861 to Elizabeth and Robert Myles (or Miles). When a young girl, she played with the visiting Mi’kmaq children. They developed strong friendships despite cultural differences and being apart much of each year. The years passed and they became young women, but they all remained close friends.

“Do up on them”

One summer in the late 1870s or early 1880s, the Mi’kmaq camped as usual at the “River Garden”, at the home of a Mi’kmaq man named Joseph Saunders.

The-Meadow-Terrenceville
The strip of land across the bay was called “The Meadow.” The “River Garden” was at the top.

Esther overheard the adult white people say that they had planned to attack the Mi’kmaq at the encampment. They wanted to drive them out of the area. Realizing the seriousness of this, Esther didn’t search out her female friends. Instead she went directly to the camp of their chief. She entered his tent, sat down and explained what she had heard. The men from the area were going to “do up on them,” she told him. Esther pleaded for him and his tribe to take up their camps and leave.

See, at that time, the European settlers were upset that the Mi’kmaq would come every year and take away ‘their’ hunt. The Europeans considered the Mi’kmaq to be stealing from them. This, despite the fact the Mi’kmaq had been hunting in the area for much longer than any Europeans had lived there.

Esther pleaded that their leaving would eliminate the pending danger to all. The chief’s first response to Esther was silence. But then he withdrew his large hunting knife. Still silent, the chief began to cut off portions of every different kinds of fresh meat that he had. Next, he placed the meat into a bag and passed it over to her, in appreciation.

Early next morning, Esther’s first thought was to check the meadow from her house window. She was overwhelmed to see that there was not a sign of a tent left on the meadow. Her Indian friends had moved on before the first hint of daylight. Not long after, it was reported that the Mi’kmaq were seen paddling up the bay.Terrenceville_Newfoundland-panoramio-2010-ColleenMartin

No more visits

From that point on, they no longer visited the area. The ones who stayed had already intermarried with the Europeans, so today their descendants make up the new Mi’kmaq of the area. Those Europeans who had differences with the Mi’kmaq are long gone, and over 95% of Terrenceville now is of Mi’kmaq descent.

Mrs. Mitchell, her granddaughter Esther said, was very proud of this story. She always remembered with great affection her Mi’kmaq friends who departed all those years before.

bay-despoir-to-terrenceville
Bay d’Espoir at left, to Terrenceville marked with red pointer. Thanks, Google maps.

See Fortune Bay NL (May 5/17) also written by Devon as well his follow-up to it, Fortune Bay mtDNA (June 1/18).

Click or tap images in this post for a larger view (except the photo of Mrs. Mitchell, already at full size).

Gander Bay NL

decks-awash-1983-v12-no6-coverDecks Awash, in 1983, published an issue about Gander Bay and Hamilton Sound. Below are the pages about Charles Francis of Clarke’s Head in Gander Bay. He was a Mi’kmaw from Pictou Landing, Nova Scotia. In 1821, when he was maybe 12 years old, he settled at Clarke’s Head, where the Gander River meets the bay.

Click or tap the images to enlarge them. You can see the entire magazine online at the MUN Digital Archives.

Gander Bay area

gander bay intro…For the most part this 10-mile-wide bay, which was once part of the French Shore was overlooked by settlers until the early 1800s. This is perhaps because Newfoundland was valuable as a base for the fishing industry, and Gander Bay is shallow and too far from the fishing grounds of Hamilton Sound to have been seen as a suitable area for settlement…

The first settler was a Micmac Indian, originally from Nova Scotia. The first white settlers arrived via Fogo and Change Islands in search of farm land and timber, and by all accounts lived in harmony with the Micmac settler. In fact, intermarriage occurred and many residents of Clarke’s Head and other communities in the vicinity are of Micmac descent…

Clarke’s Head, Gander Bay

decks-awash-1983-clarkes-head-p-10Sometime in the late 1700s a Micmac Indian and his mother arrived in what is now Clarke’s Head by way of Conne River. Near the mouth of the Gander River he cleared a plot of land and set about trapping furs to earn a living. He also fished for salmon on the river to provide variety in his diet. His name was Charles Francis.

But his solitude did not last long. A few years later John Bussey came from Fogo in search of land suitable for farming. Being an industrious sort, he cleared an entire point and called it, not surprisingly, Bussey’s Point. He planted vegetables and raised livestock, and like his Micmac neighbor fished for salmon. His attempt at immortality did not succeed, however, for the area later became known as Tibbey’s Point and today it is no longer distinguished form Clarke’s Head at all.

Gradually, more settlers came, and by 1838 there were eight houses at Clarke’s Head with a population of 68. Somewhere along the way Charles married into the white community, taking a Gillingham woman from Greenspond for his wife. Their only problem was that he was Roman Catholic and she was a member of the Church of England. They brought that situation to a happy conclusion by agreeing to raise half their children in her faith and the other half in his. It is possible, however that Charles’ mother was none too pleased with the arrangement for she returned to Nova Scotia.

decks-awash-1983-clarkes-head-11As time went on Clarke’s Head became known for its lumbering. A shipbuilder named Saunders from Blackpool, England, came to Clarke’s Head in the 1890s and set up business premises. He invested in the fishery including the Labrador and operated a large sawmill which exported rough lumber. The operation of the mill continued until the 1950s. At about the same time a George Phillips obtained leases for 270 thousand acres of virgin timberland on the banks of the Gander River and began to operate mills at Botwood, Glenwood, Norris Arm and Campbellton. In the winter he employed between 200 and 300 men in his woods’ operation near Clarke’s Head. But the operation literally died with him in 1905, just ten years after it began. It was purchased by the Newfoundland Timber Estates which closed it down soon afterwards. Perhaps because of the importance of the woods’ operations, the fishery in Clarke’s Head began to die.

Clarke’s Head has the distinction of being the site of the first church in Gander Bay. In 1905 an Anglican Church was finished to provide a place of worship for the community’s 221 members of the Church of England. The Roman Catholic Church maintained its presence of 36 members which grew to 42 over the next 30 years. There were also 13 Methodists in the community.

Clarke’s Head is the place where the first moose was landed in Newfoundland. In 1875 the HMS Eclipse landed a buck and a doe to see if the animals could survive in the area. The following year the fisheries officer aboard the HMS Bullfinch arrived to find that the buck was dead and the doe had wandered off. At this point the oral tradition surrounding the story becomes interesting. One version has it that a man traveling by horse and sled to Clarke’s Head struck the buck and injured it so badly that there was nothing to be done but put the poor animal out of its misery. A more plausible version claims that the unnamed gentleman killed the moose intentionally for the supper table perhaps starting the tradition of setting out in winter to hunt for moose in the woods around Gander Bay. It was not until several years later that more moose were landed in the area.

It is also said that there was a great fire in Clarke’s Head in the 1890s which wiped out all the houses in the community. The fire is said to have cut a path a mile wide for a distance of five miles to an area known as Charles Cove.

One final note of distinction at Clarke’s Head is the development of the Gander Bay river boat. In appearance it is remarkably like an Indian canoe with a few modifications. it is designed to withstand rough waters and, since it does not sit very deep in the water is ideal for use in the shallow waters of Gander Bay and the Gander River. Today, the boats are made by Gander Bay Woodcrafts at Clarke’s Head operated by the local Indian Band Council.

Some definite opportunities

decks-awash-1983-calvin-francis-41decks-awash-1983-calvin-francis-42

Calvin Francis, above, is the great grandson of Charles William Francis, eldest son of Charles Francis and Caroline Gillingham. He represents Gander Bay on the Qalipu First Nation council.

Children of Charles and Caroline Francis

Charlie and Caroline had seven children, all born in Clarke’s Head. They are:

  • Charles William Francis, born about 1855. He married Rachel Wadden, born about 1862 in Change Islands. They had three sons and one daughter: Herbert, Simon, Edgar and Althea.
  • Peter Francis, born about 1856 and died 1922. He married Dorcas Gillingham, born 1866 and died 1950. They had seven children: Theodore, Angus, Katie, Ida, Beatrice, Florence and Elijah.
  • Fanny Francis, born about 1859 and died soon after her marriage to Azariah Snow, born about 1858 in Hare Bay, Fogo Island.
  • Thomas Francis, born about 1862. He married Julia Peckford, born 1865 in Change Islands. They had nine children: Caroline, Lewis Aquilla, Frederick Pierce, Alberta, Laura Bridget, Chesley, Winifred, Thomas Riley and Sidney Ralph.
  • Mary Ann Francis, born late 1860s. She married Levi Stuckey, born about 1860 in Herring Neck, New World Island in Notre Dame Bay. They had three daughters: Maud, Lillian and Daisy.
  • Andrew Francis, born about 1869. He married Isabelle Pinsent, born about 1885 in Pilley’s Island, Notre Dame Bay. They had three daughters: Henrietta, Amanda Matilda and Evelyn.
  • Edward (Ned) Francis, born 1869 and died 1948. He married Sarah Anne Taylor, born about 1875 in Carbonear. They had 4 children: Helena, Peter Alphonsus, Melvin and Veronica.

Newfoundland Mi’kmaq Books

Newfoundland Mi'kmaq Books - Mary R. McKie, Library and Archives CanadaThe telling of a place often is told through the people who make up the place. Conversely, the telling of a family can be told through the place they lived.  Here are books about places or families in Newfoundland that may be of interest to those researching their origins.

Many prolific writers and storytellers have told Newfoundland’s past and present.  There are also historical sources and contemporary analyses of Newfoundland Mi’kmaq.  I have not included those here.

These books are about specific family or community history. They Painting Mi'kmaq Encampmenthave real names and details of family history as well as the history of areas in which Mi’kmaq people lived.  The exceptions are those by Kevin Major, Horwood and Butts, Erin Sharpe, Percy Janes, and Barbara Rieti.  You may not think of Kevin Major’s book when you think “history”, but it’s well worth reading.  Horwood and Butts’ book tells about the pirate Peter Easton in Newfoundland.  Erin Sharpe’s article, through the eyes of one young woman, gives the reasons why people track their Mi’kmaq ancestry. Percy Janes’ novel beautifully presents place; Corner Brook in the first half of the 20th century. Barbara Rieti studies witchcraft beliefs in all of Newfoundland, but includes Mi’kmaq people and areas.

Oil portrait Mi'kmaq woman 1840s artist unknownPlease let me know if you know of a book that should be here.  The titles below are links to find them. If you buy from Amazon, doing so through my links (or ‘Search Amazon’ box in right sidebar) means a fraction of every sale goes to me.  For that, I am most appreciative.

Relevant, but included elsewhere in this site, are Earl Pilgrim’s Drifting Into Doom, my own Nogwa’mkisk:  (Where the sand blows):  Vignettes of Bay St. George Micmacs (out of print) and Lark Szick’s Young/LeJeune Family.

Click book titles (in green) for info and purchase

Andersen, Raoul and John Crellin Mi'sel Joe: An aboriginal chief's journey St. John's: Flanker Press 2009 (Amazon)
Cover of Walking a TightropeBartels, Dennis & Alice "Mi'gmaq Lives: Aboriginal identity in Newfoundland" in Walking a Tightrope: Aboriginal people and their representations Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier U Press 2005, eds. Ute Lischke and David MacNab (Amazon)
Bennett, Don The Legacy of William Haynes, Jesperson Press 1997 (out of print, at MUN libraries, St. John’s & Corner Brook)
Bennett, Don The Trail of French Ancestors, printed by Robinson-Blackmore, 2002? (Try the booksellers in the mall in Corner Brook)
Butt, Kirk Early Settlers of Bay St. George Vol. 1: The Inner Bay Vol. 2: The Outer Bay (Tidespoint)
Pat Cher Mi'kmaq SongCher, Patricia Mi'kmaq Song: Time Travel Acadia 1606 (Amazon)
A 2011 novel. Not about Nfld Mi'kmaq communities, but about the world that produced them.
Clarke, David J. A History of the Isles: Twillingate, New World Island, Fogo Island and Change Islands CreateSpace 2012 (Amazon)
Clarke, David J. An Historical Directory of the Isles: Twillingate, New World Island, Fogo and Change Islands CreateSpace 2013 (Amazon)
Clarke, David J. Stories From These Shores: Newfoundland & Labrador, and the Isles of Notre Dame CreateSpace 2014 (Amazon)
Collins, Gary  Mattie Mitchell: Newfoundland's Greatest Frontiersman Flanker Press, St. John’s 2011 (Amazon)
Cormack, W. E.  Narrative of a Journey Across the Island of Newfoundland  St. John's, Nfld. 1873 (online - see top left for formats. You can also buy Journey Across... Newfoundland on Amazon)
Crummey, Michael River Thieves Toronto: Doubleday/Anchor 2002 (novel, about Exploits and Beothuk - Amazon)
Downer, Don Turbulent Tides: A social history of Sandy Point ESP Press, Portugal Cove 1997 (Tidespoint & Indigo)
Everts, Lee K. M. The Placentia Area: A changing mosaic  lulu.com 2016 (paperback - Amazon)
Feild, Edward (Bishop) Journal of the Bishop of Newfoundland's Voyage... to the south and west coasts... and Labrador... in the year 1848 Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, London 1849 (online - see top left for formats)
Feild, Edward (Bishop) A Journal of a Visitation in the "Hawk" Church Ship... in the year 1849 Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, London 1850 (anglicanhistory.org)
Felt, Lawrence & Peter Sinclair Living on the Edge: The Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland ISER, MUN, St. John's 1995 (Amazon)
Finn, Tom Westsiders: Stories from old Corner Brook Petra Books 2010 (Amazon)
Godin, Janice Then She Danced Guardian 2016 (Amazon) A novel about a French-Mi'kmaq woman and community in Newfoundland - in history and present day. A love story too.
Harvey, Stuart L.  The Forgotten Bay:  A historical survey of the settlement of Lark Harbour and York Harbour in the Outer Bay of Islands, Newfoundland 1997 (online and in libraries)
High, Steven "From Outport to Outport Base: The American occupation of Stephenville 1940-1945" Newfoundland Studies 18:1 (2002):84-113 (pdf)
Horwood, Harold Corner Brook: A social history of a paper town Breakwater, St. John's 1986 (Amazon)
Horwood, Harold & Ed Butts Pirates & Outlaws of Canada: 1610 to 1932 Doubleday, Toronto 1984 (Amazon)
Jackson, Doug (ed. Gerald Penney) On The Country: The Micmac Of Newfoundland Harry Cuff Publications, St. John’s 1993 (Amazon - sometimes okay prices, sometimes not!)
Janes, Percy House of Hate (fiction, Corner Brook) Breakwater, St. John's 1992; first pub. McLelland and Stewart 1970 (Amazon)
Jeddore, John Nick Moccasin Tracks: A memoir of Mi'kmaw life in Newfoundland ISER, St. John's 2015 (Amazon)
Johnson, Frederick Let Us Remember the Old Mi'kmaq Nimbus, Halifax 2001 (NL and NS historical photographs compiled by Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq - Amazon)
Kendall, Victor G. and Victor Ramea's Family Tree Corner Brook 1995
Kirwin, W. J., G. M. Story, J. D. A. Widdowson (eds.) Dictionary of Newfoundland English, 2nd ed. U of Toronto Press, Toronto 1990 (Amazon)
Lawrence, Bonita "Reclaiming Ktaqamkuk: Land and Mi'kmaq identity in Newfoundland" in Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental justice in Canada, Julian Agyeman et al. (eds.) UBC Press, Vancouver 2009 (Amazon)
Canon Richards Amazon linkLetto, Irving Sealskin Boots and a Printing Press: Piecing together the life of Canon J. T. Richards Friesen Press 2012 (Includes years 1904-1945 in Flower's Cove, Northern Peninsula - Amazon)
MacFarlane, David Come From Away Abacus 1992 (Goodyear family, Grand Falls-Windsor, WWI - Amazon)
MacGregor, William Report by the Governor on a Visit to the Micmac Indians at Bay d'Espoir 1908 (pdf) Governor MacGregor's Report also is available in paper and Kindle on Amazon.
as near to heavenMajor, Kevin As Near To Heaven By Sea Penguin/Viking, Toronto 2001 (Amazon)
words of the white wolfMuise, Victor Sakej The Words of the White Wolf McNally Robinson, Winnipeg 2017 (St. George's, Muise family, traditional ways - Publisher)
Norcliffe, Glen Global Game, Local Arena: Restructuring in Corner Brook, Newfoundland ISER, MUN, St. John's 2005 (Amazon)
Old Newfoundland Books, Quarterlies and Magazines (list of online sources)
Osmond, Roy M. Families of the South Arm of Bonne Bay 1800s-1930s Woody Point, 1987 (Libraries)
Payne, Adrian Life on the Great Northern Peninsula: A memoir Flanker Press, St. John's 2017 (Amazon)
Peyton, Amy Louise River Lords, Father and Son:  The story of the Peytons and the River of Exploits Flanker Press, St. John’s 2005 (Tidespoint)
Quigley, Colin Music from the Heart: Compositions of a folk fiddler U. of Georgia Press 1995 (Emile Benoit, Bay St. George - Amazon)
Rieti, Barbara Making Witches: Newfoundland traditions of spells and counterspells McGill-Queen's University Press 2008 (Amazon)
Rogers, John Davidson Newfoundland Vol. V, Pt. IV of A Historical Geography of the British Colonies Clarendon, Oxford 1911  Forgotten Books Classic Reprint Series 2012 Esp. ch. 8 for Mi'kmaq history (Amazon sometimes, or libraries)
Saunders, Gary L. Rattles and Steadies: Memoirs of a Gander River man Breakwater Books, St. John’s 1986 (Amazon)
Seary, E. R. and Wm. Kirwin Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland McGill-Queen's University Press 1998 (Amazon)
Sharpe, Erin “The Invisible Mi’kmaq” in Culture & Tradition Vol. 29 2007, St. John's: MUN Folklore Dept.
Simmons, Colin The Simmons Family of Newfoundland 2009 (Simmons, Pike and Pynn families, Lower Island Cove and Mosquito - Amazon)
Speck, Frank Beothuk and Micmac  New York: Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation 1922 (online - see top left for formats, also on Amazon hard copy and Kindle)
cover Cindy Styles 3 or 4 years an IndianStyles, Cindy 3 or 4 Years an Indian Friesen Press 2015 ("A little story about one girl's attempt to claim her heritage, and the maneuvering by the Canadian government to discredit that heritage." - Amazon blurb. Kindle, paper, hardback eds.
Tanner, Adrian et al.  Aboriginal Peoples and Governance in Newfoundland and Labrador Governance Project, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Oct. 1994, St. John's (Publications Canada PDF)
Tocque, Philip Newfoundland: As it was, and as it is in 1877 (Kindle - Amazon)
Tulk, Janice E. "Our Strength is Ourselves": Identity, status, and cultural revitalization among the Mi'kmaq in Newfoundland (MUN, School of Music, PhD Diss. 2008 Collections Canada PDF)
Vautier, Clarence The Coast of Newfoundland: The southwest corner Flanker Press, St. John's 2002 (Amazon)
Whitehead, Ruth The Old Man Told Us: Excerpts from Mi'kmaq history 1500-1950 Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, 1991 (Amazon)
Whitehead, Ruth
Tracking Doctor Lonecloud: Showman to legend keeper Goose Lane Editions, 2002 (19th century NS Mi'kmaw in USA; identity, cultural knowledge and entrepreneurship - Amazon)
Whitehead, Ruth Niniskamijinaqik, Ancestral Images: The Mi'kmaq in art and photography Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, 2015 (Amazon)
Wix, Edward (Bishop) Six Months of a Newfoundland Missionary's Journal from February to August, 1835 (Reprint of original Smith, Elder & Co. 1836 - Amazon) Also at anglicanhistory.org)