I am going to delete this blog (or at least the majority of posts) within the next few days. Cheers.
Armstrong, William, 1912. Ploughboy off Lonely Island, Georgian Bay. Toronto Public Library
Following last week’s Great Lakes inspiration (Lake Superior), I thought I’d continue the theme, also because Georgian Bay is equal to Lake Superior in my memory and esteem. Georgian Bay is the large body of water that joins Lake Huron, sometimes referred to as the sixth Great Lake, and completely within Canadian territory. On its own it resembles an inland sea, despite not being anywhere near as large as Lake Superior, at 190 km in length and 80 km in width, with a maximum depth of 165 m.
Browne, H.J., The Georgian Bay & Vicinity, Province of Ontario, Canada, Pub: James Bath and Sons, Toronto. Found via Project Gutenberg, Hamilton, James Cleland, 1893
At the time of European contact, the eastern, northern and western shorelines of the bay were occupied by the Anishinaabeg peoples, with the Huron peoples to the south. The bay is sheltered to the west by the Bruce Peninsula, separating it from Lake Huron, and Manitoulin Island to the north.
Kelly, John David, 1895-1900. Champlain on Georgian Bay. Notman Archives, McCord Museum, Montreal, Qc.
The French explorer Samuel de Champlain reached the south-eastern shoreline of the Bay in 1615, following visits by the French interpreter to the Algonquian First Nations, Étienne Brûlé, and possibly one other. Brûlé travelled to the area with an Ottawan Algonquian people, who overwintered with the Huron at the south end of Georgian Bay. Jesuit missionaries followed, with Jean de Brébeuf and Jérôme Lalemant establishing a mission at what is today Midland.
As a school girl I visited the historic site of the Huronia mission known as Ste. Marie among the Hurons, which is still operated by the provincial government as a historic site. The story of its burning and the martyrdom of the various Jesuit priests made a huge impression on me as a child. Brébeuf and several others were tortured and killed in raids by the Iroquois, a rival nation to the Huron, at another mission, in 1649, although he is buried at Midland. He was canonized as a Saint by the Catholic Church in 1930, for his stoicism during his torture.
During the European missions to Huronia some Huron were converted to Christianity, but many more died of the diseases the Europeans carried with them, such as smallpox, as they lacked natural immunity. Following intensification of the Huron-Iroquois strife, a Huron group resettled at Lorette, Quebec around 1650.
Huron-Wendat group from Wendake (Lorette) at Spencerwood, Quebec City, QC, 1880. Notman photo archives, McCord Museum, Montreal, Qc.
Parks, James, George. Huron-Wendat group, Wendake (Lorette), Qc, about 1875. Notman photo archives, McCord Museum, Montreal, Qc.
Following the English conquest of New France in 1760 and the establishment and growth of burgeoning English settlements in what is now Ontario, the first Lieutenant Governor of what was then known as Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, developed Penetanguishene on the southern end of the bay as a naval base in the late 18th century. In fact, one battle of the War of 1812 with the Americans was fought on Georgian Bay waters, near Wasaga Beach on the southern end of the bay.
Georgian Bay was technically named Georgian Bay in 1822 after King George IV, by Henry Wolsey Bayfield (Royal Navy), who mapped it comprehensively, although I prefer perhaps to think of it as it was described by Samuel Champlain: “la mer douce” (the calm sea, or the freshwater sea).
Gilmour, Mary Hallen, Sketch of Penetanguishene barracks, 1855. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
White, George Harlow, 1874. Georgian bay near Meaford. Photo source: Toronto Public Library.
The Niagara Escarpment, which is essentially a rugged limestone ridge, runs up the Bruce Peninsula on the western side of the bay to Tobermory. The Georgian Bay shoreline just south of Tobermory is a lovely area for camping, with surprising features such as grottos that resemble those found in warmer areas of the world.
Flower Pots near Tobermory, Ontario, 1910. Valentine and Sons Publishing Co. Photo Source: Toronto Public Library
The eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay is still noted for its cottaging, although its shipping function is also noted. Parry Sound, which I mentioned in a recent post, is the deepest freshwater port in the world. There still are a few resorts of the type in the following photo in the region to the east of Georgian Bay, Muskoka, although their heyday was generally in the first half of the twentieth century, when city dwellers were able to reach these holiday locations by train from Toronto.
The Belvedere, Parry Sound, 1910. Valentine and Sons Publishing Co. Photo Source: Toronto Public Library
“Belvidere” on the photo above is a typo. Belvedere is derived from Latin. In Italian (and likewise in French) belvedere or belvédère signifies a beautiful view (vedere is the Italian verb “to see”).) The hotel was torn down in 1961 but a park exists in its place.
Great Lakes Steamer “Assiniboia”, Canadian Pacific Line, ON, about 1923. Notman photo archives, Montreal, Qc. In two days one could travel from Parry Sound through the North Channel to Sault Ste. Marie.
It’s the wild places that inspire, as well as the lands to the north. Manitoulin Island is the very large island at the top end of Georgian Bay, separated from the north shore by the North Channel shipping route. It is traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and its inhabitants remain at least in part aboriginal to this day. Those who know something of their mythology will recognize the name’s origin from Gitchi Manitou, the Great Spirit. The island is reachable by ferry from the Bruce Peninisula.
Downloadable from Project Gutenberg Canada (one of my favourite projects in the whole world, making books in the public domain available for free) is this interesting work by James Cleland Hamilton, dating to 1893. The title, “The Georgian Bay. An account of its position, inhabitants, mineral interests, fish, timber and other resources” (Papers read before the Canadian Institute) is typical of papers of scientific inquiry of the time. The work contains some wonderful illustrations by Anna Brownell Jameson as well.
Most fascinating to me is the table of First Nations populations included in the document, derived from the Census. My understanding is that Ontario still has the greatest diversity of First Nations of any province in Canada and they are more geographically dispersed, though I can’t immediately find a reference to support this assertion.
|Chippewas and Munceys of the Thames||588||637|
|Moravians of the Thames||254||309|
|Chippewas, Pottawatomies and Ottawas of Walpole Island||748||852|
|Wyandots of Anderdon||71||98|
|Chippewas of Snake Island||130||127|
|Chippewas of Rama||265||226|
|Chippewas of Christian Island||186||357|
|Missisaugas of Rice, Mud, and Scugog Lakes||282||283|
|Mohawks of the Bay of Quinté||664||1,120|
|Missisaugas of Alnwick||212||243|
|Ojibways of Sandy Island||174||…|
|Chippewas of Saugeen||280||579|
|Chippewas of Cape Croker||352||396|
|Christian Island Band on Manitoulin Island||71||…|
|Six Nations of Grand River||2,779||3,474|
|Missisaugas of the Credit||204||253|
|Chippewas of Lake Superior||1,263||2,051|
|Chippewas of Lake Huron||1,748||3,177|
|Manitoulin Island Indians||1,498||1,915|
|Golden Lake Indians||164||367|
|Chippewas of Sarnia||…||479|
|Pottawatomies of Sarnia||…||34|
|Oneidas of the Thames||…||726|
Summarizing their voyage of scientific inquiry, Hamilton writes this elegiac passage:
However interesting such themes may be, it is on other topics that our memories will most kindly dwell as we recall the happy days and nights spent on the “White Squall.” We will remember the majesty of forests and granite shores. We will hear the scream of gulls and see the flash of great fish struggling in the nets. We will see in fancy the jolly fishermen steering merrily among the rocks. We will hear their songs and stories, as each sat, with brown, weather-beaten, friendly face, on a pile of nets or on a box in our camp. There still rises to our ears the gay laugh of the Indian boys about the wigwams. We will not forget the beauty displayed in winding, glassy coves among the islands, in flowers and verdure in sunny nooks, the Aurora* dancing each clear night in the north, the kindly courtesy of our little company, the chaff of the camp fires and the songs we sung, of which the following is one, composed ‘mong the Isles of the Georgian Bay
‘MONG THE ISLES OF THE GEORGIAN BAY.
Where wild winds the billows raise,
And the whale and the porpoise play,
Some vaunt famed Biscay’s Bay;
And the fair for the South wind sigh.
But give to me that shore,
Where the North star shines most clear,
And our devious course we steer
‘Mong the Isles of the Georgian Bay.
Oh give to me, etc.
Of new lands in the far sunny West,
Of De. Champlain, with fleur-de-lis spread;
Of the brave Arctic hero***, who sped
O’er these waters, pray tell us great Pines,
Ye whose heads the clouds piercing, arise;
Ye too, surely remember the cries
Of the Mohawk and Huron at strife
‘Mong the Isles of the Georgian Bay.
Oh give to me, etc.
La Cloche’s gray rock gleams,
With bright spirits from Algic skies,
See, the swift Aurora flies.
O’er the pines the pale moon smiles.
All enwrapped in the beauty of night,
We look on, by the camp-fire’s light;
Great Manito seeming near,
‘Mong the Isles of the Georgian Bay.
Oh give to me, etc.
*refers to the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights
** refers to Columbus
***refers to Franklin
Armstrong, William, 1913. Landing at Sault Ste. Marie on the Red River Expedition. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
Armstrong, William, 1882, Otter Head. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
Johnson, William Arthur, 1873, Jesuit mission Immaculate Conception on the Kaministiqua River. Photo source: Toronto Public Library.
I have a great love of the north shore of Lake Superior, the lake originally known as gichigami by the Ojibwe, or le lac supérieur by the French (“the upper lake”). It’s generally known as the largest freshwater lake in the world, by surface area, and third largest by volume; it presents as a great inland sea. The shoreline is awe-inspiring in its rugged beauty and the frigid waters terrifying during a storm. I have memories of pastel sunsets reflected perfectly on the still, frigid waters, imposing granite cliffs, and most of all an intense sense of smallness and aloneness in a powerful natural space.
Vaugondy Robert de Didier, 1753. Map including a scrunched version of Lake Superior in the northwest quandrant. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
During the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, fur trading posts were established on the northernmost shore of the lake, at the start of great canoe routes into western Canada. One of these posts was founded at the entrance of the Kaministiqua River to Lake Superior and today forms a part of the modern city of Thunder Bay. Originally established as a French trading post in the late 17th century, and later abandoned by the French around the time of the English conquest of New France (1760), an English post on the site was established by the North West Company in 1803, as a midway trans-shipping point between their outlying posts and Montreal. This post, later named Fort William, lost its importance when the North West Company merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1820s, with major trade shifting to Hudson’s Bay to the north, although it remained a trading post.
Fleming, John Arnot, 1857. Fort William from Lake Superior. Pencil with touches of water colour scraping out, on graduated light blue tinted paper. Photo source: Toronto Public Library.
Fleming, John Arnot, 1857. The Collingwood on a rock near Michipoicoten Island. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
Wrecked ships under water are still being discovered in the lake.
Engraving by Charles Mottram, 1873, after an oil painting by Frances Hopkins, 1869 (now in the Glenbow collection, Calgary). Canoes disappearing into mist on Lake Superior. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
Frances Hopkins, an English painter, was married to a Hudson’s Bay Company official. She accompanied him on several canoe trips and became a well-known painter of canoe scenes depicting the final period of the fur trade. She lived in Canada following her marriage in 1858, mostly in Montreal, and returned to England permanently in 1870 where she died in 1919. She showed frequently in England, including with the Royal Academy in London from 1869.
Despite the decline of the fur trade, Fort William’s growth was reinvigorated in 1870s when it was selected to be the eastern terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway line to Winnipeg to the west. It was incorporated in 1907 and amalgamated with the adjacent town of Port Arthur in 1970. Port Arthur had been founded in the 1870s as a depot of the Department of Public Works of the newly confederated Canada, which had the aim of developing land transportation to a developing Western Canada. Port Arthur’s growth was stimulated by a silver mining boom in the 1880s and later on as a transshipment grain handling port for the Canadian Northern Railway line to and from Winnipeg.
Johnson, William Arthur, 1873. Thunder Cape, with the Sleeping Giant visible in the background. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
White, George Harlow, 1876. Entrance to Thunder Bay. Photo source: Toronto Public Library
Temporary bridge over Pic River, Lake Superior, 1884. Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB
The Kaministiqua or Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel, Fort William, 1900. Photo credit: Evans. Publisher: JL Meikle. Photo source: Toronto Public Library.
Northern Hotel, Port Arthur, 1900, “Overlooking one of the most magnificent scenes in the world, the glorious Thunder Bay, which has been compared to the Bay of Naples.” Photo: Evans. Publisher: JL. Meikle. Photo source: Toronto Public Library.
Panoramic view of Port Arthur, 1900, “showing Northern Hotel at Thunder Bay on the right.” Photo: Evans. Publisher: JL. Meikle. Photo source: Toronto Public Library.
Ten years later, Rockwell Kent and I would discuss the glamour of a north shore, how everything opens and clears there, sky, various winds, water; how light lingers long after it should in summer, as if trying to announce something vital that has been overlooked or refused.
~ Jane Urquhart, The Underpainter
Albert Robillard, 1900. Canoeing on Lake Superior (?). Photo source: Toronto Public Library
Election, Ontario, 1908. Crowd in front of Telegraph Building, Melinda St. Toronto Public Library photo archive
It’s election night in Ontario, so as I listen to the results come in over the radio, I am thinking a little bit about what elections and voting must have been like in the past. Completely abstracting from the fact that women did not have the franchise in 1908 and were not yet declared persons, I’m still keen on imagining the process of waiting for the newspaper to come out to see the results!
I can understand what is going on in the photo above, but I’m not sure what the crowds were waiting for here, meaning what kind of a presentation they might have expected:
The photo is apparently from the same location, by the Telegraph Building on Melinda Street. Source: Toronto Public Library.
Incidentally, I had no idea who won the 1908 election before writing this. It turns out that it was the Ontario Conservative Party. Tonight it seems to be going the other way. No comment on politics, however! I will mention though that the Premier-elect is a woman.
Update: If you’re interested in knowing a little bit about when women got the right to vote in Canada here’s a brief article. I hadn’t realized that women had campaigned for suffrage over such a long period in Ontario (the vote was finally gained in 1917 after forty years of struggle). It was 1918 when most women gained the vote federally, although it was many years later that suffrage included some women, including aboriginal women (1960).