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Title: The Country of the Neutrals - (As Far As Comprised in the County of Elgin),  From Champlain to Talbot
Author: Coyne, James H.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Country of the Neutrals - (As Far As Comprised in the County of Elgin),  From Champlain to Talbot" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions







[Illustration: This is a copy of Galinee's map of 1670, the first made
from actual exploration in which Lake Erie appears. It was printed in
Faillon's "Histoire de la Colonie Française," and in "The History of
the Early Missions in Western Canada." The plate was very kindly placed
at the service of the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute, for
use in this work by the Very Reverend Dean Harris, the author of the
last mentioned book.

The following explanations refer chiefly to the western portion of the

Title: "Map of the country visited by Messrs. Dollier de Casson and de
Galinee, missionaries of St. Sulpice, drawn by the same M. de Galinee.
(See M. Talon's letter 10th November, 1670)." L. Huron: "Michigan or
Fresh-Water Sea of the Hurons." (These lakes were erroneously supposed
to be but one). N. End: "Bay of the Pottawatamies." Islands near
Mackinac: "I entered this bay only as far as these islands." W. of St.
Clair River: "Great hunting ground." At Detroit: "Here was a stone,
idol of the Iroquois, which we broke up and threw into the water."
Essex Peninsula: "Large prairies." Lake Erie: "I mark only what I have
seen." Long Point: "Peninsula of Lake Erie." North Shore Opposite:
"Here we wintered." The Bay Opposite: "Little Lake Erie." Grand River:
"Rapid River on Tina-Toua." East Side Grand River: "Excellent land."
West Side Grand River: (up the river): "The Neutral Nation was formerly
here." West of Burlington Bay: "Good land." Niagara River: "This
current is so strong that it can hardly be ascended." At its Mouth:
"Niagara Falls said by the Indians to be more than 200 feet high."
Lake Ontario: "I passed on the south side, which I give pretty
accurately." North Shore: "Mr. Perot's encampment. Here the
missionaries of St. Sulpice established themselves."]




In that part of the township of Southwold included in the peninsula
between Talbot Creek and the most westerly bend of Kettle Creek there
were until a relatively recent date several Indian earthworks, which
were well-known to the pioneers of the Talbot Settlement. What the tooth
of time had spared for more than two centuries yielded however to the
settler's plough and harrow, and but one or two of these interesting
reminders of an almost forgotten race remain to gratify the curiosity of
the archæologist or of the historian. Fortunately, the most important of
all is still almost in its original condition. It is that, which has
become known to readers of the Transactions of the Canadian Institute as
the Southwold Earthwork. It is situated on the farm of Mr. Chester
Henderson, Lot Number Four North on Talbot Road East. Mr. David Boyle in
the Archæological Reports printed in 1891 has given the results of his
examinations of the mounds. A carefully prepared plan made from actual
survey by Mr. A. W. Campbell, C.E., for the Elgin Historical and
Scientific Institute of St. Thomas, was presented by the latter to the
Canadian Institute.[1] These will together form a valuable, and, it is
hoped, a permanent record of this interesting memorial of the aboriginal
inhabitants of South-western Ontario.

      [1] Mr. J. H. Scott, of St. Thomas, has made a number of
      photographs of the mounds at the instance of an American lady,
      who, it is understood, will reproduce them in a work about to be
      published by her.

The writer of this paper has been acquainted with "the old fort," as it
was called, since the year 1867. At that time it was in the midst of the
forest. Since then the woods have been cleared away, except within the
fort and north of it. Indeed, a considerable number of trees have been
felled within the southern part of the enclosure. In the mounds
themselves trees are abundant, and there are many in the moat or ditch
between. The stumps of those which have been cut down are so many
chronological facts, from which the age of the fort may be conjectured
with some approach to accuracy. A maple within the enclosure exhibits
242 rings of annual growth. It was probably the oldest tree within the
walls. A maple in the outer embankment shows 197 rings; between the
inner and outer walls a beech stump shows 219 rings, and an elm 266.
Many of the trees were cut down a good many years ago. Judging from
these stumps, it would be safe to calculate the age of the forest at
about two hundred years, with here and there a tree a little older. The
area enclosed is level. In the field south there are numerous hummocks
formed by the decayed stumps of fallen trees. The walls were manifestly
thrown up from the outside. There is an exception on the south-east.
Here the ground outside was higher, and to get the requisite elevation
the earth was thrown up on both walls from the intervening space, as
well as on the exterior wall from the outside. Each of the walls runs
completely round the enclosure, except where the steep bank of the
little stream was utilized to eke out the inner wall for five or six
rods on the west side, as shewn on the plan. Opposite the south end of
this gap was the original entrance through the outer wall. The walls
have been cut through in one or two other places, doubtless by settlers
hauling timber across them.

The writer accompanied Mr. Campbell on his visits in the spring and fall
of 1891. The members of the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute
made a pretty thorough examination of a large ash-heap south-east of the
fort. It had, however, been frequently dug into during the last score or
two of years, with ample results, it is said, in the way of stone
implements of various kinds. There still remained, however, arrow-heads
and chippings of flint, stones partially disintegrated from the action
of heat, fragments of pottery whose markings showed a very low stage of
artistic development, fish scales, charred maize and bones of small
animals, the remains of aboriginal banquets. Within the enclosure,
corn-cobs were found by digging down though the mould, and a good
specimen of a bone needle, well smoothed, but without any decoration,
was turned up in the bed of the stream where it passes through the fort.

The original occupants were manifestly hunters, fishermen and
agriculturists, as well as warriors. Nothing appears to have been found
in the neighborhood, pointing to any intercourse between them and any
European race.

It would seem that the earth-work was constructed in the midst of a
large clearing, and that the forest grew up after the disappearance of
the occupants. A few saplings, however, may have been permitted to
spring up during their occupancy for the sake of the shelter they might
afford. These are represented by the oldest stumps above mentioned.

The question, who were the builders, is an interesting one. To answer it
we need not go back to a remoter period than the middle of the
seventeenth century, when the Iroquois after destroying the Huron
Settlements turned their attention to the southwest, and the Neutral
Nation ceased to exist. The enclosure was, we may reasonably believe, a
fortified village of the Neutrals at the time of their evacuation of
this province, nearly a quarter of a millennium ago.

Substantially all that is known of the Neutrals is to be found in
Champlain's works, Sagard's History, the Relations and Journal of the
Jesuits, and Sanson's map of 1656. A digest of the information contained
therein is given in the following pages. The writer has availed himself
of one or two other works for some of the facts mentioned. Mr. Benjamin
Sulte's interesting and learned articles on "Le pays des grands lacs au
XVIIe Siecle" in that excellent magazine, "Le Canada Francais," have
been most valuable in this connection.

The first recorded visit to the Neutrals was in the winter of 1626, by a
Recollet father, De Laroche-Daillon. His experiences are narrated by
himself, and Sagard, who includes the narrative in his history,
supplements it with one or two additional facts.

In company with the Jesuit Fathers Brebeuf and De Noue, Daillon left
Quebec with the purpose of visiting and converting the Hurons, who were
settled in villages between the Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. After the
usual hardships, journeying by canoe and portage, by way of the Ottawa
and French Rivers, they arrived at their destination. The ill-fated
Brule told wonderful stories of a nation, whom the French called the
Neutrals, and Father Joseph Le Caron wrote Daillon urging him to
continue his journey as far as their country.

He set out accordingly on the 18th October, 1626, with two other
Frenchmen, Grenolle and La Vallee. Passing through the territory
occupied by the Tobacco Nation, he met one of their chiefs, who not
merely offered his services as guide, but furnished Indian porters to
carry their packs and their scanty provisions. They slept five nights
in the woods, and on the sixth day arrived at the village of the
Neutrals. In this as well as in four other villages which they visited,
they were hospitably entertained with presents of food, including
venison, pumpkins, "neintahouy," and "the best they had." Their dress
excited the astonishment of their Indian hosts, who were also surprised
that the missionary asked nothing from them but that they should raise
their eyes to heaven, and make the sign of the cross.

What excited raptures of admiration, however, according to his narrative
was to see him retire for prayer at certain hours of the day: for they
had never seen any priests beyond passing glimpses when visiting amongst
the neighboring Hurons and Tobacco Indians.

At the sixth village, Ounontisaston, in which Daillon had been advised
to take up his abode, a council was held at his instance. He observes
that the councils are called at the will of the chiefs, and held either
in a wigwam or in the open air, the audience being seated on the ground;
that silence is preserved whilst a chief is addressing the assembly, and
that what they have once concluded and settled is inviolably observed
and performed by them.

Daillon explained that he had come on the part of the French to make
alliance and friendship with them and to invite them to come and trade,
and begged them to permit him to stay in their country "to instruct them
in the laws of our God, which is the only means of going to Paradise."
They agreed to all he proposed and in return for his gifts of knives and
other trifles, they adopted him as "citizen and child of the country,"
and as a mark of great affection entrusted him to the care of
Souharissen, who became his father and host. The latter was, according
to Daillon, the chief of the greatest renown and authority that had ever
been known in all the nations, being chief not only of his own village,
but of all those of his nation, to the number of twenty-eight, besides
several little hamlets of seven to eight cabins built in different
places convenient for fishing, hunting, or cultivating the ground.
Souharissen had acquired his absolute and extraordinary authority by his
courage and his success in war. He had been several times at war with
the seventeen tribes, who were the enemies of his race, and from all he
had brought back the heads of those he had slain, or prisoners taken
alive, as tokens of his prowess. His authority was without example
amongst other tribes.

The Neutrals are reported by Daillon as being very warlike, armed only
with war-club and bow, and dexterous in their use. His companions having
gone back, the missionary remained alone, "the happiest man in the
world," seeking to advance the glory of God and to find the mouth of the
river of the Iroquois, (probably the Niagara,) in order to conduct the
savages to the French trading posts. He visited them in their huts,
found them very manageable and learned their customs. He remarked that
there were no deformed people amongst them. The children, who were
sprightly, naked and unkempt, were taught by him to make the sign of the
Holy Cross.

The natives were willing that at least four canoes should go to trade if
he would conduct them, but nobody knew the way. Yroquet, an Indian known
in the country, who had come hunting with twenty of his tribe and
secured five hundred beaver skins, declined to give him any indication
of the mouth of the river; but he agreed with several Hurons in assuring
Daillon that a journey of ten days would take him to the trading post.
The missionary, however, was afraid of taking one river for another and
getting lost or perishing of hunger.

For three months he was treated with kindness. Then the Hurons became
jealous lest the trade should be diverted from them. They accordingly
circulated rumors through every village, that Daillon was a great
magician, that he had poisoned the air in their country, and many had
died in consequence, that if he was not killed soon, he would burn up
their villages and kill their children, with other stories as
extraordinary and alarming about the entire French nation. The Neutrals
were easily influenced by the reports. Daillon's life was in danger on
more than one occasion. The rumor reached Brebeuf and De Noue, that he
had been killed. They at once despatched Grenolle to ascertain the
truth, with instructions to bring Daillon back if alive. He acquiesced,
and returned to the Huron country.

He speaks of a Neutral village called Ouaroronon, one day's journey from
the Iroquois, the people of which came to trade at Ounontisaston. Their
village was the last of the Neutral villages, and was probably east of
the Niagara River.

Daillon, like every other traveller, was charmed with the Neutral
country, which he pronounces incomparably greater, more beautiful
and better than any other "of all these countries." He notes the
incredible number of deer, the native mode of taking them by
driving them into a gradually narrowing enclosure, their practice
of killing every animal they find whether they needed it or not. The
reason alleged was that if they did not kill all, the beasts that
escaped would tell the others how they had been chased, so that
afterwards when the Indians needed game it would be impossible to get
near it. He enumerates moose, beaver, wild-cats, squirrels larger
than those of France, bustards, turkeys, cranes, etc., as abundant,
and remaining in the country through the winter. The winter was
shorter and milder than "in Canada." No snow had fallen by the 22nd
November. The deepest was not more than two and a half feet. Thaw set
in on the 26th of January. On the 8th March the snow was gone from the
open places, but a little still lingered in the woods. The streams
abounded in very good fish. The ground produced more corn than was
needed, besides pumpkins, beans and other vegetables in abundance, and
excellent oil. He expresses his surprise that the Merchants' Company had
not sent some Frenchman to winter in the Country: for it would be very
easy to get the Neutrals to trade and the direct route would be much
shorter than that by way of French River and the Georgian Bay. He
describes the Neutrals' country as being nearer than the Huron to the
French, and as being on one side of the lake of the Iroquois (Lake
Ontario) whilst the Iroquois were on the other. The Neutrals, however,
did not understand the management of canoes, especially in the rapids,
of which there were only two, but long and dangerous. Their proper
trade was hunting and war. They were very lazy and immoral. Their
manners and customs were very much the same as those of the Hurons.
Their language was different, but the members of the two nations
understood one another. They went entirely unclad.

Sagard adds that "according to the opinion of some," the Neutrals'
country was eighty leagues (about 200 miles) in extent, and that they
raised very good tobacco which they traded with their neighbors. They
were called Neutrals on account of their neutrality between the Hurons
and the Iroquois; but they were allies of the Cheveux Releves (the
Ottawas) against their mortal enemies of the Nation of Fire. Sagard was
dissuaded by some members of the French trading company from attempting
to bring about a peace between the Hurons and the Iroquois. It was
supposed that this would divert the trade of the Hurons from Quebec by
sending it through the Iroquois country to the Dutch of the Hudson
River. At so early a date did the question of closer trade relations
between the territories north and south of the lakes agitate the minds
of statesmen and men of commerce.

In the winter of 1640-1, the Jesuit missionaries, Brebeuf and Chaumonot
traversed the country of the Neutrals. The former composed a dictionary
showing the differences between the kindred dialects of the Hurons and
Neutrals. Chaumonot made a map of the country, which is not extant, but
there is reason for believing that it was the authority for the
delineation of the territory on Sanson's map of 1656 and Ducreux's Latin
map of 1660. From the facts hereinafter detailed it is highly probable
that they reached the Detroit River, and that they visited and named the
Neutral village of which the Southwold Earthwork is the memorial. The
first printed map in which Lake Erie is shown was made by N. Sanson
d'Abbeville, geographer in ordinary to the King, and printed in Paris,
with "privilege du Roy" for twenty years, in the year 1656. It is a map
of eastern North America. The sources of information are stated in
general terms, which may be translated as follows: "The most northerly
portion is drawn from the various Relations of the English, Danes, etc.
Towards the south the coasts of Virginia, New Sweden, New Netherlands
and New England are drawn from those of the English, Dutch, etc. THE
GREAT RIVER OF CANADA, or of St. Lawrence and all the neighboring
regions (_environs_) are according to the Relations of the French."

Now, we know that Father Raymbault visited Sault Ste. Marie in 1641 and
mapped Lake Superior, and that Father Chaumonot in the same year
rendered the same service for the Neutral Country. Sanson's map is
fairly accurate for the upper lakes, when compared with some maps
published at much later periods when the lakes had become tolerably well
known to traders and travellers. It shows an acquaintance with the
general contour of Lakes Erie, St. Clair and Huron, with several of the
streams emptying into Lakes Erie and Huron on both the Canadian and the
American sides, with the names of tribes inhabiting both shores, and
with the locations of five towns of the Neutrals, besides some towns of
the Tobacco Nation. The Neutral towns are given as S. Francois,
(north-east of Sarnia) S. Michel, (a little east of Sandwich), S.
Joseph, (apparently in the county of Kent), Alexis, (a few miles west of
a stream, which flows into Lake Erie about midway between the Detroit
and Niagara Rivers, and where the shore bends farthest inland),[2] and
N. D. des Anges (on the West bank of a considerable river, probably the
Grand River, near where Brantford now stands). The Detroit and Niagara
Rivers and four streams flowing into Lake Erie between them are shown
but not named. The great cataract is called "Ongiara Sault." The name
Ongiara may, however, be that of the Neutral village east of the Falls.
Lake St. Clair is called Lac des Eaux de Mer, or Sea-water Lake,
possibly from the mineral springs in the neighborhood. The country of
the Tobacco Nation includes the Bruce peninsula and extends from the
Huron country on the east to Lake Huron on the west, and Burlington Bay
on the southeast. The Neutral Country (_Neutre ou Attiouandarons_) would
embrace the whole of southwestern Ontario south of a line drawn from the
west end of Lake Ontario to a stream which flows into Lake Huron about
midway between Point Edward and Cape Hurd, and which is probably the
Maitland River. The tribes to the south of the lakes are indicated from
the Niagara River to Lake Superior. The Eries or "Eriechronons, ou du
Chat," are south-east of Lake Erie; the "Ontarraronon" are west of what
is probably the Cuyahoga River; at the southwest of the lake appear the
"Squenqioronon;" west of the Detroit River are the "Aictaeronon;" west
of Port Huron the "Couarronon;" Huron County in Michigan is occupied by
the "Ariaetoeronon;" at the head of Saginaw Bay and extending southward
through Michigan are the "Assistaeronons ou du Feu;" in the peninsula
extending north to Mackinac are the "Oukouarararonons;" beyond them Lake
Michigan appears as "Lac de Puans;" then come the northern peninsula and
"Lac Superieur." Manitoulin Island is marked "Cheveux Releves;" the old
French name for the Ottawas. The Tobacco Nation called "N. du Petun on
Sanhionontateheronons" includes villages of "S. Simon et S. Iude" in the
Bruce promontory, "S. Pierre" near the south end of the County of Bruce,
and "S. Pol," southwest of a lake which may be Scugog.

      [2] Alexis corresponds with the actual position of the Southwold
      Earthwork, and the stream with that of Kettle Creek.

To return to the narratives, these agree in stating that the Neutrals,
like their kinsmen of the Huron, Tobacco and Iroquois Nations, were a
numerous and sedentary race living in villages and cultivating their
fields of maize, tobacco and pumpkins. They were on friendly terms with
the eastern and northern tribes, but at enmity with those of the west,
especially the Nation of Fire, against whom they were constantly sending
out war parties. By the western tribes it would appear that those west
of the Detroit River and Lake Huron are invariably meant.

Champlain refers to the Neutrals in 1616 as a powerful nation, holding a
large extent of country, and numbering 4,000 warriors. Already they were
in alliance with the Cheveux Releves (the Ottawas), whom he visited in
the Bruce Peninsula, against the Nation of Fire. He states that the
Neutrals lived two days' journey southward of the Cheveux Releves, and
the Nation of Fire ten days from the latter. The Nation of Fire occupied
part of what is now Michigan, probably as far east as the Detroit and
St. Clair Rivers.

Describing his visit to the Cheveux Releves, he adds:--"I had a great
desire to go and see that Nation (the Neutrals), had not the tribes
where we were dissuaded me from it, saying that the year before one of
ours had killed one of them, being at war with the Entouhoronons (the
Senecas), and that they were angry on account of it, representing to us
that they are very subject to vengeance, not looking to those who dealt
the blow, but the first whom they meet of the nation, or even their
friends, they make them bear the penalty, when they can catch any of
them unless beforehand peace had been made with them, and one had given
them some gifts and presents for the relatives of the deceased; which
prevented me for the time from going there, although some of that nation
assured us that they would do us no harm for that. This decided us, and
occasioned our returning by the same road as we had come, and continuing
my journey, I found the nation of the Pisierinij etc."

    NOTE.--This is a literal translation, and shows the crudity of
    Champlain's sailor style of composition.

Brebeuf, who reckoned the Hurons at more than 30,000, describes the
Neutrals in 1634 as much more numerous than the former. The Relation of
1641 gives them at least 12,000, but adds that notwithstanding the wars,
famine and disease (small pox), which since three years had prevailed in
an extraordinary degree, the country could still furnish 4,000 warriors,
the exact number estimated by Champlain a quarter of a century earlier.
The name of the Neutrals is variously given as Attikadaron, Atiouandaronk,
Attiouandaron, Attiwandaronk, but the last is the more common. The name
signified "people who spoke a slightly different dialect," and the
Hurons were known to the Neutrals by the same name. The latter are
mentioned in the Relations as one of the twelve numerous and sedentary
nations who spoke a common language with the Hurons. The Oueanohronons
formed "one of the nations associated with the Neutral Nation." They
are afterwards called in the same Relation (1639) the Wenrohronons, and
are said to have lived on the borders of the Iroquois, more than eighty
leagues from the Huron country. So long as they were on friendly terms
with the Neutrals they were safe from the dreaded Iroquois; but a
misunderstanding having arisen between them, they were obliged to flee
in order to avoid extermination by the latter. They took refuge, more
than 600 in all, with the Hurons, and were received in the most
friendly and hospitable manner.

The Relation of 1640 speaks of a Huron map communicated by Father Paul
Ragueneau in which a large number of tribes, most of them acquainted
with the Huron language, are shown, including the Iroquois, the
Neutrals, the Eries, etc. The "Mission of the Apostles" was established
among the Tobacco Nation by Garnier and Jogues in 1640. Nine villages
visited by them were endowed by the missionaries with the names of
apostles, two of which are given in Sanson's map of 1656.[3] In one
"bourg" called S. Thomas, they baptized a boy five years old belonging
to the Neutral Nation, who died immediately afterwards. "He saw himself
straightway out of banishment and happy in his own country." The famine
had driven his parents to the village of the Tobacco Nation. The devoted
missionaries add that this was the first fruits of the Neutral nation.

      [3] The principal "bourg" was Ehwae, surnamed S. Pierre et S.
      Paul. If S. Pierre on Sanson's map is the same place, this most
      have been near the southern end of the county of Bruce. The other
      village or mission shown on the map is S. Simon et S. Iude.

In the fall of the same year "The Mission of the Angels" was begun among
the Neutrals. The lot fell upon Jean de Brebeuf and Joseph Marie
Chaumonot. The former was the pioneer of the Jesuit Mission. He had
spent three years among the Hurons from 1626 to 1629, and, after the
restoration of Canada to the French by Charles I., he had returned in
1634 to the scene of his earlier labors. His associate had only come
from France the year before. Brebeuf was distinguished for his mastery
of the native tongues, and Chaumonot had been recognized as an apt
student of languages. The plan of the Jesuits was to establish in the
new mission a fixed and permanent residence, which should be the
"retreat" of the missionaries of the surrounding country, as Ste. Marie
was of those of the Huron mission.

Lalemant from their report describes the Neutral Nation as exceedingly
populous, including about forty villages ("bourgs ou bourgades.") The
nearest villages were four or five days' journey or about forty leagues
(100 miles) distant from the Hurons, going due south. He estimates the
difference in latitude between Ste. Marie and the nearest village of the
Neutrals to the south at about 1°55'. Elsewhere the distance is spoken
of as about thirty leagues.

From the first "bourg," going on to the south or south-west (a mistake
for south-east it would seem,) it was about four days' journey to the
mouth of the Niagara River. On this side of the river, and not beyond
it, as "some map" lays it down, (Champlain's, doubtless,) were most of
the "bourgs" of the Neutral Nation. There were three or four on the
other side towards the Eries. Lalemant claims, and there is no doubt as
to the fact, that the French were the first Europeans to become
acquainted with the Neutrals. The Hurons and Iroquois were sworn enemies
to each other, but in a wigwam or even a camp of the Neutrals until
recently each had been safe from the other's vengeance.

Latterly however the unbridled fury of the hostile nations had not
respected even the neutral ground of their mutual friends. Friendly as
they were to the Hurons and Iroquois, the Neutrals engaged in cruel wars
with other nations to the west, particularly the Nation of Fire, as has
been stated above. The previous year a hundred prisoners had been taken
from the latter tribe. This year, returning with 2,000 warriors, the
Neutrals had carried off more than 170. Fiercer than the Hurons, they
burned their female prisoners. Their clothing and mode of living
differed but little from those of the Hurons. They had Indian corn,
beans and pumpkins in equal abundance. Fish were abundant, different
species being met with in different places. The country was a famous
hunting ground. Elk, deer, wild cats, wolves, "black beasts"
(squirrels), beaver and other animals valuable for their skins and
flesh; were in abundance. It was a rare thing to see more than half a
foot of snow. This year there was more than three feet. The deep snow
had facilitated the hunting, and, in happy contrast with the famine
which had prevailed, meat was plentiful. They had also multitudes of
wild turkeys which went in flocks through the fields and woods. Fruits
were no more plentiful than amongst the Hurons, except that chestnuts
abounded, and wild apples were a little larger.

Their manners and customs, and family and political government, were
very much like those of the other Indian tribes, but they were
distinguished from the Hurons by their greater dissoluteness and
indecency. On the other hand they were taller, stronger and better

Their burial customs were peculiar, although similar customs are
reported at this day amongst some African tribes. The bodies remained in
their wigwams until decomposition rendered them insupportable, when they
were put outside on a scaffold. Soon afterward, the bones were removed
and arranged within their houses on both sides in sight of the inmates,
where they remained until the feast of the dead. Having these mournful
objects before their eyes, the women habitually indulged in cries and
laments, in a kind of chant.

The Neutrals were distinguished for the multitude and quality of their
madmen, who were a privileged class. Hence it was common for bad Indians
to assume the character of maniacs in order to perpetrate crimes without
fear of punishment. The Jesuits suffered very much from their malice.
Some old men told them that the Neutrals used to carry on war "towards"
a certain western nation, who would seem to have lived on the Gulf of
Mexico, where the "porcelain, which are the pearls of the country," was
obtained from a kind of oysters. It is an undoubted fact that a traffic
was carried on with tribes as far south as the Gulf of Mexico, from whom
shells used for wampum were obtained by successive interchanges of
commodities with intervening tribes. They had also some vague notion of
alligators, which are apparently referred to by the description,
"certain aquatic animals, larger and swifter than elk," against which
these same people had "a kind of war," the details of which are somewhat
amusing, as given by Lalemant.

The two Jesuits left Ste. Marie the 2nd November, 1640, with two French
servants (probably "donnes,") and an Indian. They slept four nights in
the woods. The fifth day they arrived at the first village ("bourg") of
the Neutral Nation called Kandoucho, but to which they gave the name of
All Saints. This is probably the same as N. D. des Anges on Sanson's
map, and was not far perhaps from the site of Brantford.

Owing to the unfavorable reports which had been spread through the
country about the Jesuits, the latter were anxious to explain their
purposes to a council of the chiefs and old men. The head chief, "who
managed the affairs of the public" was called Tsohahissen (doubtless the
same as Daillon's Souharissen). His "bourg" was "in the middle of the
country;" to reach it, one had to pass through several other villages
("bourgs et bourgades.") In Sanson's map, Alexis is placed almost
exactly "in the middle of the country" of the Neutrals. No other village
is marked on the map, to which the expression could be applied. Its
situation nearly midway between the Detroit & Niagara Rivers, a few
miles west of a stream which flows into Lake Erie just where the mouth
of Kettle Creek would appear in a map of our own century, corresponds
with that of the Southwold earthwork. Was the latter the Neutrals'
capital? We can only conjecture; but the evidence of the Relations, the
map and the forest growth, all points to an affirmative answer. There is
a strong probability that it was here Tsohahissen reigned (if the
expression is allowable in reference to an Indian potentate) as head
chief of the forty Neutral villages. Through the western gate,
doubtless, his warriors set out to wage their relentless warfare against
the Nation of Fire. Within these mounds, returning satiated with blood,
they celebrated their savage triumph, adorned with the scalps of their

Brebeuf's Huron surname "Echon" had preceded him. He was regarded as
"one of the most famous sorcerers and demons ever imagined." Several
Frenchmen had travelled through the country before him, purchasing furs
and other commodities. These had smoothed the way for the Jesuits. Under
the pretext of being traders, Brebeuf's party succeeded in making their
way in spite of all obstacles interposed. They arrived at the head-chief's
village, only to find that he had gone on a war party and would not
return until spring. The missionaries sought to negotiate with those who
administered affairs in his absence. They desired to publish the Gospel
throughout these lands, "and thereby to contract a particular alliance
with them." In proof of their desire, they had brought a necklace of two
thousand grains of "porcelain" or wampum which they wished to present to
"the Public." The inferior chiefs refused to bind themselves in any way
by accepting the present, but gave the missionaries leave, if they would
wait until the chief of the country returned, to travel freely and give
such instruction as they pleased. Nothing could have suited the fathers
better. First however they decided to return in their steps and
reconduct their domestics out of the country. Then they would resume
their journey for the second time, and "begin their function." As it had
been the servants however, who had acted the part of traders, this
pretext was now wanting to the Jesuits. They suffered everywhere from
the malicious reports which had been circulated as to their purposes in
visiting the nation and the acts of sorcery with which they were
charged. The Hurons of the Georgian Bay alarmed for the monopoly they
had hitherto enjoyed and jealous of the French traders, had sent
emissaries amongst the Neutrals to poison their minds against the
adventurous travellers, by the most extraordinary calumnies.

For these reports two Huron Indians Aouenhokoui and Oentara were
especially responsible. They had visited several villages, presented
hatchets in the name of the Huron chiefs and old men, and denounced
their white visitors as sorcerers who desired to destroy the Neutrals by
means of presents. These representations were so effectual that a
council was at length held by the chiefs and the present formally
refused, although permission to preach was granted.

From village to village they passed, but everywhere the doors were
barred to them. Hostile looks greeted them wherever they went. No sooner
did they approach a village than the cry resounded on all sides "Here
come the Agwa." This was the name given by the natives to their greatest
enemies. If the priests were admitted into their dwellings at all, it
was more frequently from fear of the "sorcerers'" vengeance than for the
hope of gain, "God making use of everything in order to nourish his

In the graphic language of Lalemant: "The mere sight of the fathers, in
figure and habit so different from their own, their gait, their gestures
and their whole deportment seemed to them so many confirmations of what
had been told them. The breviaries, ink-stands and writings were
instruments of magic; if the Frenchmen prayed to God, it was according
to their idea simply an exercise of sorcerers. Going to the stream to
wash their dishes, it was said they were poisoning the water: it was
charged that through all the cabins, wherever the priests passed, the
children were seized with a cough and bloody flux, and the women became
barren. In short, there was no calamity present or to come, of which
they were not considered as the source. Several of those with whom the
fathers took up their abode did not sleep day or night for fear; they
dared not touch what had been handled by them, they returned the
strangers' presents, regarding everything as suspicious. The good old
women already regarded themselves as lost, and only regretted the fate
of their little children, who might otherwise have been able to repeople
the earth."

The Neutrals intimidated the fathers with rumors of the Senecas, who
they were assured were not far off. They spoke of killing and eating the
missionaries. Yet in the four months of their sojourn Brebeuf and
Chaumonot never lacked the necessaries of life, lodging and food, and
amidst difficulties and inconveniences better imagined than described
they retained their health. Their food supply was bread baked under
ashes after the fashion of the country, and which they kept for thirty
and even forty days to use in case of need.

"In their journey, the fathers passed through eighteen villages (_bourgs
ou bourgades_), to all of which they gave a Christian name, of which we
shall make use hereafter on occasion. They stayed particularly in ten,
to which they gave as much instruction as they could find hearers. They
report about 500 Fires and 3,000 persons, which these ten _bourgades_
may contain, to whom they set forth and published the Gospel."
(Lalemant's Relation.)[4]

      [4] In another place it is stated that there were 40 villages of
      the Neutrals in all.

Disheartened, the fathers decided to return to Kandoucho or All Saints
to await the spring. Midway, however, at the village of Teotongniaton,
or S. Guillaume, (perhaps in the vicinity of Woodstock) the snow fell in
such quantities that further progress was impossible. They lodged here
in the cabin of a squaw, who entertained them hospitably and instructed
them in the language, dictating narratives syllable by syllable as to a
school boy. Here they stayed twenty-five days, "adjusted the dictionary
and rules of the Huron language to that of these tribes (the Neutrals),
and accomplished a work which alone was worth a journey of several years
in the country."

Hurons from the mission of La Conception volunteered to go to the
relief of the daring travellers. After eight days of travel and
fatigue in the woods the priests and the relief party arrived at Ste.
Marie on the very day of St. Joseph, patron of the country, in time to
say mass, which they had not been able to say since their departure.

Amongst the eighteen villages visited by them, only one, that of
Khioetoa, called by the fathers Saint Michel, gave them the audience
their embassy merited. In this village, years before, driven by fear of
their enemies, had taken refuge a certain foreign nation, "which lived
beyond Erie or the Cat Nation," named Aouenrehronon. It was in this
nation that the fathers performed the first baptism of adults. These
were probably a portion of the kindred Neutral tribe referred to above
as having fled to the Huron country from the Iroquois. Their original
home was in the State of New York. Sanson's map shows S. Michel a
little east of where Sandwich now stands.

Owing to their scanty number and the calumnies circulated amongst the
Indians respecting the Jesuits of the Huron Mission the latter resolved
to concentrate their forces. The Neutral mission was abandoned, but
Christian Indians visited the Neutrals in 1643 and spread the faith
amongst them with a success which elicits Lalemant's enthusiastic
praises. Towards the end of the following winter a band of about 500
Neutrals visited the Hurons. The fathers did not fail to avail
themselves of their opportunity. The visitors were instructed in the
faith and expressed their regret that their teachers could not return
with them. A different reception from that experienced by Brebeuf and
Chaumonot three years before was promised.

Lalemant relates that in the summer of 1643, 2,000 Neutrals invaded the
country of the Nation of Fire and attacked a village strongly fortified
with a palisade, and defended stoutly by 900 warriors. After a ten
days' siege, they carried it by storm, killed a large number on the
spot, and carried off 800 captives, men, women and children, after
burning 70 of the most warlike and blinding the eyes and "girdling the
mouths" of the old men, whom they left to drag out a miserable
existence. He reports the Nation of Fire as more populous than the
Neutrals, the Hurons and the Iroquois together. In a large number of
these villages the Algonkin language was spoken. Farther away, it was
the prevailing tongue. In remote Algonkin tribes, even at that early
day, there were Christians who knelt, crossed their hands, turned their
eyes heavenward, and prayed to God morning and evening, and before and
after their meals; and the best mark of their faith was that they were
no longer wicked nor dishonest as they were before. So it was reported
to Lalemant by trustworthy Hurons who went every year to trade with
Algonkin nations scattered over the whole northern part of the

Ragueneau in the Relation of 1648 refers to Lake Erie as being almost
200 leagues in circuit, and precipitating itself by "a waterfall of a
terrible height" into Lake Ontario, or Lake Saint Louys.

The Aondironnons a tribe of the Neutrals living nearest to the Hurons
were treacherously attacked in their village by 300 Senecas, who after
killing a number carried as many as possible away with them as
prisoners. The Neutrals showed no open resentment but quietly prepared
to revenge themselves. A Christian Huron, a girl of fifteen, taken
prisoner by the Senecas, escaped from them and made her way to the
Neutral country, where she met four men, two of whom were Neutrals and
the others enemies. The latter wished to take her back to captivity; but
the Neutrals, claiming that within their country she was no longer in
the power of her enemies, rescued her and she returned in safety to Ste.
Marie on the Georgian Bay. These incidents were the prelude to the storm
which shortly afterward burst.

In 1650 the principal part of the Iroquois forces was directed against
the Neutrals. They carried two frontier villages, in one of which were
more than 1600 men, the first at the end of autumn, the second early in
the spring of 1651. The old men and children who might encumber them on
their homeward journey were massacred. The number of captives was
excessive, especially of young women, who were carried off to the
Iroquois towns. The other more distant villages were seized with terror.
The Neutrals abandoned their houses, their property and their country.
Famine pursued them. The survivors became scattered amongst far-off
woods and along unknown lakes and rivers. In wretchedness and want and
in constant apprehension of their relentless enemy, they eked out a
miserable existence.

The Journal (April 22, 1651) adds that after the destruction of the
Neutral village in the previous autumn, the Neutral warriors under the
lead of the Tahontaenrat (a Huron tribe) had followed the assailants and
killed or taken 200 of them; and 1,200 Iroquois warriors had returned in
the spring to avenge this disaster. In August a Huron reported at
Montreal the capture of Teot'ondiaton (probably the village in which
Brebeuf composed his dictionary, and which is referred to in the
Relation as having been taken in the spring). The condition of the
Neutrals was desolate and desperate. In April, 1652, news reached Quebec
that they had leagued with the Andastes against the Iroquois, that the
Senecas had been defeated in a foray against the Neutrals, so that the
Seneca women had been constrained to quit their village and retreat to
the Oneida country; also that the Mohawks had gone on the war path
against the Andastes during the winter, and the issue of the war was
unknown. The last of July, 1653, seven Indians from the Huron country
arrived at Quebec and reported a great gathering near Mackinac of all
the Algonkin nations with the remains of the Tobacco and Neutral Nations
at A'otonatendie three days above the Sault Ste. Marie (Skia'e) towards
the south. The Tobacco Indians had wintered at Tea'onto'rai; the
Neutrals to the number of 800 at Sken'chio'e towards Teo'chanontian.
These were to rendezvous the next fall with the Algonkins, who were
already on the spot to the number of 1,000.

This is probably the last we hear of the Neutrals under their own name.
Some of the survivors united with the remnant of the Hurons at Mackinac
and on Lake Superior; and under the name of the Hurons and Wyandots they
appear from time to time on the page of history. Their removal to
Detroit on the establishment of the latter trading post by Cadaillac, is
perpetuated by the name of Wyandotte, to the south of the City of the

Parkman mentions the circumstance that an old chief named Kenjockety,
who claimed descent from an adopted prisoner of the Neutral Nation, was
recently living among the Senecas of Western New York.

It is stated in the "History of the County of Middlesex" that over 60
years ago, "Edouard Petit, of Black River, discovered the ruins of an
ancient building on the Riviere aux Sables, about 40 miles from Sarnia.
Pacing the size, he found it to have been 40×24 feet on the ground. On
the middle of the south or gable end, was a chimney eighteen feet high,
in excellent preservation, built of stone, with an open fire place. The
fire place had sunk below the surface. This ruin had a garden surrounding
it, ten or twelve rods wide by twenty rods in length, marked by ditches
and alleys. Inside the walls of the house a splendid oak had grown to
be three feet in diameter, with a stem sixty feet high to the first
branch. It seemed to be of second growth, and must have been 150 years
reaching its proportions as seen in 1828-9."

This must have been the mission of S. Francois shown on Sanson's map.


After the expulsion of the Neutrals, the north shore of Lake Erie
remained an unpeopled wilderness until the close of the last century.
The unbroken forest teemed with deer, racoons, foxes, wolves, bears,
squirrels and wild turkeys. Millions of pigeons darkened the sky in
their seasons of migration. For generations after the disappearance of
the Neutrals, the Iroquois resorted to the region in pursuit of game.
The country was described in maps as "_Chasse de Castor des Iroquois_,"
the Iroquois' beaver ground. Numerous dams constructed by these
industrious little animals still remain to justify the description.

The French built forts at Detroit, Niagara and Toronto to intercept the
beaver traffic, which otherwise might be shared by the English on the
Hudson and Mohawk rivers; but for nearly a hundred and fifty years no
settlement was attempted on the north shore. References to the region
are few and scanty. Travellers did not penetrate into the country.
Coasting along the shore in canoes on their way to Detroit, they landed
as rarely as possible for shelter or repose. There were forest paths
well known to the Indians, by which they portaged their canoes and goods
from one water stretch to another. One of these led from the site of
Dundas to a point on the Grand River near Cainsville; another from the
latter stream to the Thames River near Woodstock; and a third from the
upper waters of the Thames to Lake Huron. Besides these, there was a
trail from the Huntly farm in Southwold on the River Thames (Lot 11,
Con. 1,) to the mouth of Kettle Creek; and a fifth from the Rondeau to
M'Gregor's Creek near Chatham. These were thoroughfares of travel and of
such rude commerce as was carried on by the savages with their French
and English neighbors.


Joliet was the first Frenchman to descend Lake Erie from Detroit. He had
been sent by Talon to investigate the copper mines of Lake Superior. He
returned to Quebec in the autumn of 1669 by way of the lower lakes,
instead of taking the usual route by the French River and the Ottawa. At
the mouth of Kettle Creek he hid his canoe. Thence he portaged,
doubtless by the well-known trails to the Thames and Grand rivers, until
he reached Burlington Bay.[5]

      [5] This is the most probable inference from the facts stated by

At the Seneca village of Tinaouatoua, midway between the Bay and the
Grand River, he met La Salle and the Sulpician priests, Dollier de
Casson and Galinee on their way to Lake Erie and the Ohio River. The
result of the meeting and of the information given by Joliet was that
the priests altered their purpose and decided to proceed to Sault Ste.
Marie and then to the Pottamatamies, where they would establish their
mission: whilst La Salle, who evidently was dissatisfied with his
companions, went back with Joliet and, it is now pretty generally
believed, discovered the Ohio by journeying overland from the Seneca
villages south of Lake Ontario during the winter or the following
spring. Joliet gave the missionaries a description of his route, from
which Galinee was able to make a map which was of great assistance in
the further progress of their expedition.[6] The priests descended the
Grand River to Lake Erie, and wintered at the forks of Patterson's
Creek, where Port Dover now stands. After a sojourn of five months and
eleven days, during which they were visited in their cabin by Iroquois
beaver hunters, they proceeded westward along the north shore of the
lake. Losing one of their canoes in a storm, they were obliged to divide
their party. Four men with the luggage proceeded in the two remaining
canoes. Five of the party, including apparently the two priests, made
the wearisome journey on foot from Long Point all the way to the mouth
of Kettle Creek, where on the tenth of April, 1670, they found Joliet's
canoe, and the party was reunited for the rest of the long journey to
the Sault. Upon leaving their winter abode however the whole party had
first proceeded to the lake shore, and there on the 23rd March 1670,
being Passion Sunday, planted a cross, as a memorial of their long
sojourn, and offered a prayer. The official record is as follows:

    "We the undersigned certify that we have seen affixed on the lands
    of the lake called Erie the arms of the King of France with this
    inscription: The year of salvation 1669, Clement IX. being seated in
    St. Peter's chair, Louis XIV. reigning in France, M. de Courcelle
    being governor of New France, and M. Talon being intendant therein
    for the King, there arrived in this place two missionaries from
    Montreal accompanied by seven other Frenchmen, who, the first of all
    European peoples, have wintered on this lake, of which, as of a
    territory not occupied, they have taken possession in the name of
    their King by the apposition of his arms, which they have attached
    to the foot of this cross. In witness whereof we have signed the
    present certificate."

    Priest of the Diocese of Nantes in Brittany.
    Deacon of the Diocese of Rennes in Brittany."

      [6] Galinee's map is reproduced in Faillon's Histoire de la
      Colonie Francaise.

Galinee grows enthusiastic over the abundance of game and wild fruits
opposite Long Point. The grapes were as large and as sweet as the finest
in France. The wine made from them was as good as _vin de grave_. He
admires the profusion of walnuts, chestnuts, wild apples and plums.
Bears were fatter and better to the palate than the most "savory" pigs
in France. Deer wandered in herds of 50 to 100. Sometimes even 200 would
be seen feeding together. In his enthusiasm the good priest calls this
region "the terrestrial paradise of Canada."

Fortunately for the explorers, the winter was as mild at Port Dover as
it was severe at Montreal. Patterson's Creek was however still frozen
over on the 26th March, when, having portaged their goods and canoes to
the lake, they embarked to resume their westward journey. They had to
pass two streams before they arrived at the sand beach which connected
Long Point with the mainland. To effect the first crossing they walked
four leagues inland before they found a satisfactory spot. To cross Big
Creek, they were obliged to spend a whole day constructing a raft. They
were further delayed by a prolonged snow storm and a strong north wind.
On the west bank was a meadow more than 200 paces wide, in passing over
which they were immersed to their girdles in mud and slash. Arriving at
the sandy ridge which then connected Long Point with the mainland, they
found the lake on the other side full of floating ice, and concluded
that their companions had not ventured to proceed in their frail
barques. They encamped near the sandbar and waited for the canoes,
which had doubtless been delayed by the weather. The missionaries put
themselves on short rations in order to permit the hunters to keep up
their strength for the chase, and were rewarded with a stag as the
result. As it was Holy Week the whole party decided not to leave the
spot until they had kept their Easter together. On the Tuesday
following, which was the eighth day of April, they heard mass and,
although the lake had still a border of ice, they launched their canoe,
and continued their journey as before, five of the party going by land.
When they arrived at "the place of the canoe," on the 10th great was
their disappointment to find that the Iroquois had anticipated them and
carried it away. Later in the day however it was found, hidden between
two large trees on the other side of a stream. The discoverers came
upon it unexpectedly whilst looking for dry wood to make a fire, and
bore it in triumph to the lake. The hunters were out the whole day
without seeing any game. For five or six days the party subsisted on
boiled maize, no meat being obtainable. Being provided now with three
canoes, the party paddled up the lake in one day to a place where game
was abundant. The hunters saw more than 200 deer in a single herd, but
missed their aim. In their craving for flesh-meat, they shot and
skinned a poor wolf and had it ready for the kettle, when one of their
men perceived twenty or thirty deer "on the other side of a small lake
on the shore of which we were."[7] The deer were surrounded and forced
into the water, where 10 were killed, the rest being permitted to
escape. Well supplied with fresh and smoked meat they went on nearly
twenty leagues (about fifty miles) in one day, "as far as a long point
which you will find marked in the map of Lake Erie. We arrived there on
a beautiful sand-beach on the east side of this point."[8] Here
disaster overtook them. They had drawn up their canoes beyond high
water mark, but left their goods on the sand near the water, whilst
they camped for the night. A terrific gale came up from the north-east,
and the water of the lake rose until it swept with violence over the
beach. One of the party was awakened by the roaring of the waves and
wind and aroused the rest, who attempted to save their supplies.
Groping with torches along the shore, they succeeded in securing the
cargo of Galinee's canoe, and of one of Dollier's. The other canoe load
was lost, including provisions, goods for bartering, ammunition, and,
most important of all, the altar service, with which they intended
establishing their mission among the Pottawatamies. The question was
debated whether they should take up their mission with some other
tribe, or go back to Montreal for a new altar service and supplies,
and, returning at a later period, establish themselves wherever they
should then determine. Deciding in favor of the latter view, they
concluded that the return journey would be as short by way of the Sault
and the French River as by the route which they had followed from the
east. In favor of this decision was the further consideration that not
only would they see a new country but they would have the escort of the
Ottawas who were assembling at the Sault for their annual trading visit
to Montreal and Quebec. Galinee continues: "We pursued our journey
accordingly towards the west, and after having made about 100 leagues
on Lake Erie arrived at the place where the _Lake of the Hurons_,
otherwise called the _Fresh-water Sea of the Hurons_, or the Michigan,
discharges itself into that lake. This outlet is perhaps half a league
wide and turns sharply to the north-east, so that we were in a measure
retracing our steps; at the end of six leagues we found a place that
was very remarkable and held in great veneration by all the savages of
these regions, because of a stone idol of natural formation, to which
they say they owe the success of their navigation on Lake Erie when
they have crossed it without accident, and which they appease by
sacrifices, presents of skins, provisions, etc., when they wish to
embark on it."

      [7] Evidently the Rondeau.

      [8] This was Point Pelee.

"This place was full of huts of those who had come to pay homage to this
idol, which had no other resemblance to a human figure than that which
the imagination chose to give it. However it was painted all over, and a
kind of face had been formed for it with vermillion. I leave you to
imagine whether we avenged upon this idol, which the Iroquois had
strongly recommended us to honor, the loss of our chapel."

"We attributed to it even the scarcity of food from which we had
suffered up to that time. In fine there was nobody whose hatred it had
not incurred. I consecrated one of my hatchets to break this god of
stone, and then having locked canoes we carried the largest piece to the
middle of the river, and immediately cast the remainder into the water,
that it might never be heard of again."

"God rewarded us forthwith for this good act: for we killed a deer that
same day, and four leagues farther we entered a little lake about ten
leagues long and almost as wide, called by Mr. Sanson the _Lake of the
Salted Waters_, but we saw no sign of salt. From this lake we entered
the outlet of Lake Michigan, which is not a quarter of a league in

"At last ten or twelve leagues farther on, we entered the largest lake
in all America, called here "the Fresh-water Sea of the Hurons," or in
Algonkin, _Michigan_. It is 600 to 700 leagues in circuit. We made on
this lake 200 leagues and were afraid of falling short of provisions,
the shores of the lake being apparently very barren. God, however, did
not wish that we should lack for food in his service."

"For we were never more than one day without food. It is true that
several times we had nothing left, and had to pass an evening and
morning without having anything to put into the kettle, but I did not
see that any one was discouraged or put to prayers (_sic_) on that
account. For we were so accustomed to see that God succored us mightily
in emergencies, that we awaited with tranquility the effects of his
goodness, thinking that He who nourished so many barbarians in these
woods would not abandon his servants."

"We passed this lake without any peril and entered the _Lake of the
Hurons_, which communicates with it by four mouths, each nearly two
leagues in width."

"At last we arrived on the 25th May, the day of Pentecost, at Ste. Marie
of the Sault, where the Jesuit fathers have made their principal
establishment for the missions to the Ottawas and neighboring tribes."

Here they found fathers D'Ablon and Marquette in charge of the mission,
with a fort consisting of a square of cedar posts, enclosing a chapel
and residence. They had cleared and seeded a large piece of ground. The
Sulpicians remained only three days and then hired an experienced guide
to take them to Montreal, where they arrived on the 18th June after a
fatiguing journey of twenty-two days. They had been absent since the 6th
July 1669, and were welcomed as if they had come to life again after
being dead. It was their intention to return in the following spring and
renew their search for the Ohio River, where they purposed establishing
a mission; but this intention was never carried into effect.

"This famous voyage," says Dean Harris in his interesting 'History of
the Early Missions in Western Canada,' "stimulated to an extraordinary
degree enthusiasm for discovery, and in the following year Talon sent
out expeditions to the Hudson Bay, the Southern Sea, and into the
Algonquin country to the north." Marquette, Tonty, Hennepin, Du Lhut, La
Salle and Perrot explored the Mississippi valley, and the head waters of
the St. Lawrence system, and almost the entire continent was claimed by
the French as belonging to New France. As far as appears, there were no
Indians having settled abodes on the north shore of Lake Erie for more
than a century after the expulsion of the Neutrals. Nor does any attempt
appear to have been made by the whites to explore south-western Ontario
until the close of the last century. The Iroquois continued for a long
period to range its forests for beaver in the winter. The rivalry
between the French and the English for the control of the vast western
fur trade led to the erection of outposts by the English at Oswego and
by the French at Cataraqui, Niagara, Detroit and Michilimakinac, during
the latter part of the 17th century. English traders sailed or paddled
up the lakes to get their share of the traffic, and were from time to
time summarily arrested and expelled by their rivals. Both parties tried
to ingratiate themselves with the natives. The French were as eager to
maintain a state of warfare between the Iroquois and the Indians of the
upper Lakes--the Hurons, Ottawas, Pottawatamies, Ojibways etc.--as to
induce the former to keep the peace with the white inhabitants of
Canada. There were two great trade routes to Montreal, viz: by Mackinac,
the Georgian Bay and the French and Ottawa River and by Detroit, Lake
Erie and Niagara; the Lake Simcoe portage routes by the Trent River
system, and the Holland River and Toronto were also used. Trading or
military parties, under the leadership of La Salle, Tonty, Perrot, Du
Lhut, Cadaillac, passed along the coast of L. Erie in canoes; but little
record if any remained of their visits to the shores. Kettle Creek was
long called the Tonty River. It is so named in one of Bellin's maps of
1755, and by the Canadian Land Board at Detroit as lately as 1793. The
only northern tributaries of Lake Erie to which names are given on the
map of 1755 are the Grand River, River D'Ollier (Patterson's Creek),
which in some maps is called the River of the Wintering--a manifest
reference to Galinee and Dollier de Casson's sojourn in 1669-70--the
River a la Barbue (Catfish Creek), the River Tonty (Kettle Creek) a
little east of P'te au Fort (Plum Point or else Port Talbot) and the
River aux Cedres (M'Gregor's Creek in Essex). The Thames is described as
a "River unknown to all geographers, and which you go up eighty leagues
without finding any rapids (_saults_)." The Chenail Ecarte is indicated
as the only outlet of the Sydenham river the map-makers assuming that
Walpole Island was part of the mainland. The mouths of four or five
streams are shown between Long Point and "the Little Lake" (Rondeau),
and the shore is marked "The High Cliffs." "The Low Cliffs" were
between the Rondeau and Point Pelee. In one of Bellin's maps of 1755 in
the present writer's possession Long Point is shown as a peninsula, and
the streams now in the County of Elgin are marked "Unknown Rivers," but
the map firstly mentioned and published in the same year, is more
complete, represents Long Point as an island, and names the Barbue and
Tonty rivers and Fort Point, (_P'te au Fort_) which are not named in
the other. The Tonty, moreover, is represented as an inlet by way of
distinction from the other streams (including the Barbue) which appear
as of equal insignificance. The naming of Kettle Creek after the great
explorer and devoted lieutenant of La Salle indicates its consequence.
Its harbor was of paramount importance to the navigation of these early
days, but no doubt the portage route extending from its mouth to the
Thames, exalted the little river in the eyes of the explorers who
honored it with Tonty's name.[9]

      [9] General John S. Clarke, of Auburn, N.Y., in correspondence
      with the present writer, dwells upon the importance of the Kettle
      Creek portage route in the seventeenth century. He is a
      recognized authority upon the subject of Indian trade routes.


On July 19th, 1701, the Iroquois ceded to the British the entire
country between the lakes, "including the country where beavers and all
sorts of wild game keep, and the place called De Tret,"[10] but this
appears to have been a mere formality as no possession was taken by the

      [10] History of Middlesex County, p. 17.

The Ojibways have a tradition that they defeated the Iroquois (called by
them the Nottawas or Nahdoways) in a succession of skirmishes, ending in
a complete victory at the outlet of Burlington Bay, and the final
expulsion of the Six Nations from that part of Ontario between the Great
Lakes. The Ojibways then spread east and west over the country. "A
treaty of peace and friendship was then made with the Nahdoways residing
on the south side of Lake Ontario, and both nations solemnly covenanted,
by going through the usual forms of burying the tomahawk, smoking the
pipe of peace, and locking their hands and arms together, agreeing in
future to call each other _Brothers_. Thus ended their war with the

      [11] "Peter Jones and the Ojebway Indians," p. 113.

Whatever may be the truth of the details, there is no doubt of the fact
that the Ojibways or their kindred the Mississagas were the sole
occupants of Western Ontario at the time of the conquest in 1759, except
near the Detroit River where the remnant of the Hurons or Wyandots had
settled. It was with the Mississagas that the British negotiated in 1784
for the cession of the country from the "head of the Lake Ontario or the
Creek Waghguata to the River La Tranche, then down the river until a
south course will strike the mouth of Cat Fish Creek on Lake Erie." On
the 21st May, 1790, Alexander M'Kee announced to the Land-board at
Detroit the cession to the Crown by the Indians of that part of Upper
Canada west of the former grant. The surrender of the Indian title
opened the way in each division of the lake shore district for

    NOTE.--The explanatory notes referring to the extract are by the
    late Leonidas Burwell, M.P.P., and are given by him in a letter to
    His Honor, Judge Hughes, which has been kindly presented by the
    recipient to the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute.

      [12] The north shore of Lake Erie appears to have been so little
      known to the officials, that Kettle Creek and Cat Fish Creek were
      continually confused and taken as being one or different streams
      as chance would have it. The Land-board considered that a
      surrender of the lands west of Kettle Creek gave the Crown all
      the territory not previously ceded. The Indians at Detroit who
      made the cession were the Ojibways, Hurons, Ottawas and


In the year 1721 the distinguished traveller, Charlevoix, passed through
Lake Erie on his way up the Lakes and thence down the Mississippi to
New Orleans. The north shore of Lake Erie, and chiefly that part now
embraced within the limits of the County of Elgin, is singled out by him
as the most beautiful country he met with in his passage. Many
travellers since Charlevoix have admired the charming scenery at the
mouths of Otter, Catfish, Kettle and Talbot Creeks, but few if any have
described it so well. As Colonel Talbot was influenced mainly by
Charlevoix's description of the country to establish his settlement at
the outlet of Talbot Creek in 1803, the present writer makes no apology
for reproducing the following extended passage from the celebrated and
gifted traveller:

"The 28th May, 1721, I went eighteen leagues and found myself over
against the _great river_ which comes from the East in forty-two
degrees fifteen minutes. Nevertheless the great trees were not yet
green. This country appeared to me to be very fine. We made very little
way the 29th and none at all the 30th. We embarked the next day about
sun rise, and went forward apace. The first of June being Whitsunday,
after going up a pretty river almost an hour which comes a great way,
and runs between two fine meadows, we made a portage about sixty paces
to escape going round a point which advances fifteen leagues into the
lake: they call it the _Long Point_. It is very sandy and produces
naturally many vines."[13]

      [13] This river is what is now known as "Big Creek" and, answers
      this description at the present day. It enters the lake a little
      above Fort Rowan.

"The following days I saw nothing remarkable, but I coasted a charming
country that was hid from time to time by some disagreeable skreens, but
of little depth. In every place where I landed I was enchanted with the
beauty and variety of landscape bounded by the finest forest in the
world; besides this water fowl swarmed everywhere. I cannot say there is
such plenty of game in the woods: but I know that on the south side
there are vast herds of wild cattle."[14]

      [14] This charming country is evidently, the greater part of it,
      the County of Elgin, as the portage is not more than thirteen
      miles from the boundary line of Bayham. In passing up the lake
      one would meet with a great variety of landscape as the
      sand-hills in Houghton and the mouths of the Otter, Catfish and
      other creeks would be passed. The lofty pines and chestnuts and
      oaks along this coast, in their original state no doubt appeared
      like the "finest forest in the world."

"If one always travelled as I did then, with a clear sky and charming
climate on water as bright as the finest fountain, and were to meet
everywhere with safe and pleasant encampings, where one might find all
manner of game at little cost, breathing at one's ease a pure air, and
enjoying the sight of the finest countries, one would be tempted to
travel all one's life."

"It put me in mind of those ancient patriarchs who had no fixed abode,
dwelt under tents, were in some manner master of all the countries they
travelled over, and peaceably enjoyed all their productions without
having the trouble which is inavoidable in the possession of a real
domain. How many oaks represented to me that of _Mamre_? How many
fountains made me remember that of Jacob? Every day a situation of my
own choosing, a neat and convenient house set up and furnished with
necessaries in a quarter of an hour, spread with flowers always fresh,
on a fine green carpet, and on every side plain and natural beauties
which art had not altered and which it can not imitate. If the pleasures
suffer some interruption either by bad weather or some unforseen
accident, they are the more relished when they reappear."

"If I had a mind to moralize, I should add, these alternations of
pleasure and disappointment which I have so often experienced since I
have been travelling, are very proper to make us sensible that there is
no kind of life more capable of representing to us continually that we
are only on the earth like pilgrims, and that we can only use, as in
passing, the goods of this world; that a man wants but a few things; and
that we ought to take with patience the misfortunes that happen in our
journey, since they pass away equally, and with the same celerity. In
short how many things in travelling make us sensible of the dependence
in which we live upon Divine providence, which does not make use of, for
this mixture of good and evil, men's passions, but the vicissitudes of
the seasons which we may foresee, and of the caprice of the elements,
which we may expect of course. Of consequence, how easy is it, and how
many opportunities have we to merit by our dependence on and resignation
to the will of God?"

"They say commonly that long voyages do not make people religious, but
nothing one would think should be more capable of making them so, than
the scenes they go through."


The conquest of Canada in 1759 was followed by the occupation of Detroit
and the upper forts by a British force under the famous Major Robert
Rogers. He followed the south shore of Lake Erie, and near the site of
Cleveland was met by the celebrated Ottawa chief, Pontiac, who
challenged his right to pass through the country without the formal
permission of its savage sovereign. The operations of the conspiracy of
Pontiac (1763-5) are described in Parkman's glowing pages. The success
of the American Revolution was followed by the settlement not only of
the U.E. Loyalists but also of many of the disbanded British troops in
the most fertile districts north of the lakes. To locate these
advantageously a Land-board was established at Detroit by the Canadian
Government and it continued to perform its functions until the surrender
of that post to the United States under the provisions of the Jay Treaty
of 1794.


The Indian title to the whole north shore region having been surrendered
to the Crown, no time was lost in opening the territory for settlement.
Patrick McNiff, an assistant surveyor attached to the Ordinance
Department, was ordered by Patrick Murray, Commandant at Detroit, to
explore the north shore from Long Point westward and investigate the
quality and situation of the land. His report is dated 16th June 1790.
The following extract is interesting:

    "From Pointe aux Pins to the portage at Long Point, no possibility
    of making any settlement to front on the Lake, being all the way a
    yellow and white sand bank from 50 to 100 feet high, top covered
    with chestnut and scrubby oak and no harbours where even light boats
    may enter except River Tonty and River a la Barbue.[15] A load boat
    may enter the latter having four and a half feet water on the bar;
    on each side of River a la Barbue are flats of excellent lands, but
    not above fifteen or twenty chains wide, before very high land
    commences, which in many places does not appear to be accessible for
    any carriage. On the tops of these very high hills, good land,
    timber, some very large chestnut, hickory and bass. These hills are
    separated by dry ravines almost impassable from their great
    depth--on the back of Long Point very good land, not so hilly as
    what I have passed. Timber bass, black walnut and hard maple, but
    marshy in front for twenty or thirty chains."

      [15] Kettle and Catfish Creeks.

In consequence of this unfavorable report, townships were directed to be
laid out on the River Thames, instead of the lake shore.


In the year 1791 the Quebec Act was passed, dividing Quebec into
two provinces, and Colonel John Graves Simcoe became the first
lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada. Before the Bill was introduced into
parliament, it was understood that Simcoe had been selected by Pitt to
govern the new province, direct its settlement and establish
constitutional government after the model of the British system. As
early as January, 1791, he had written a letter to Sir Joseph Banks,
President of the Royal Society,[16] in which after mentioning his
appointment, he explained his own plans as to the administration, and
stated his desire to profit by the ideas of his correspondent whom he
would wait upon for that purpose.

      [16] Record book of the Land Board at Detroit, now in the Crown
      Lands Department at Toronto.

"For the purpose of commerce, union and power, I propose that the site
of the colony should be in that Great Peninsula between the Lakes Huron,
Erie and Ontario, a spot destined by nature, sooner or later, to govern
the interior world."

"I mean to establish a capital in the very heart of the country, upon
the River La Tranche, which is navigable for batteauxs for 150
miles--and near to where the Grand River, which falls into Erie, and
others that communicate with Huron and Ontario almost interlock. The
capital I mean to call Georgina--and aim to settle in its vicinity
Loyalists, who are now in Connecticut, provided that the Government
approve of the system."

As a member of the House of Commons, Simcoe spoke in support of a
provision in the bill for the establishment of an hereditary nobility,
which Fox had moved to strike out. The report states that Colonel Simcoe
"having pronounced a panegyric on the British constitution, wished it to
be adopted in the present instance, as far as circumstances would
admit." The provision was in the bill as finally passed.

Having proceeded to Quebec to enter upon the performance of his duties,
he appears to have utilized every opportunity for informing himself of
his new domain. He writes to Hon. Henry Dundas from Montreal, December
7, 1791, in a letter marked "secret and confidential," as follows:--

    "I am happy to have found in the surveyor's office an actual survey
    of the River La Tranche. It answers my most sanguine expectations,
    and I have but little doubt that its communications with the Ontario
    and Erie will be found to be very practicable, the whole forming a
    route which, in all respects, may annihilate the political
    consequences of Niagara and Lake Erie.  *  *  *  My ideas at present
    are to assemble the new corps, artificers, etc., at Cataraqui
    (Kingston), and to take its present garrison and visit Toronto and
    the heads of La Tranche, to pass down that river to Detroit, and
    early in the spring to occupy such a central position as shall be
    previously chosen for the capital."

On the 16th July, 1792, the name of the River La Tranche was changed to
the Thames by proclamation of the Governor, issued at Kingston. In the
spring, he had written that "Toronto appears to be the natural arsenal
of Lake Ontario and to afford an easy access overland to Lake Huron." He
adds: "The River La Tranche, near the navigable head of which I propose
to establish the Capital, by what I can gather from the few people who
have visited it, will afford a safe, more certain, and I am inclined to
think, by taking due advantage of the season, a less expensive route to
Detroit than that of Niagara."

At Quebec Simcoe had met the Hon. Thomas Talbot, who had joined the
24th Regiment as Lieutenant in the previous year. Talbot was then a
young man of twenty, whilst Simcoe was in his fortieth year. A strong
attachment sprang up between these two remarkable men, and Talbot
accompanied the lieutenant-governor to Niagara, in the capacity of
private and confidential secretary. After meeting the first Legislature
elected in Upper Canada during the fall of 1792 Simcoe decided to make
a journey overland to Detroit. He left Navy Hall on the 4th February,
1793, and returned on the 10th March. His travelling companions were
Capt. Fitzgerald, Lieutenant Smith (previously Secretary to the Detroit
Land Board, subsequently the first Surveyor General of Upper Canada, an
M.P.P., Speaker of the House, etc., and afterward created a baronet),
Lieutenants Talbot, Gray, Givens and Major Littlehales. All of these
were prominent afterward in the history of the Province. Talbot became
the founder of the Talbot Settlement. Gray was appointed Solicitor
General; he perished in the schooner 'Speedy' on Lake Ontario in 1804
with Judge Cochrane, Sheriff Macdonell and others. Givens was afterward
the well-known Colonel Givens, Superintendant of Indian Affairs at
York. Littlehales was afterward Sir E. B. Littlehales, Secretary of War
for Ireland, during the Lord-Lieutenancy of the Marquis of Cornwallis;
he married in 1805 the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of the Duke
of Leinster and sister of the unfortunate Lord Edward Fitzgerald.[17]

      [17] Dr. Scadding's notes to his reprint of Littlehales' Journal.

The journey was made partly in sleighs, but chiefly on foot. Littlehales
kept a diary of the occurrences on the way. The route was by Ten-mile
Creek, Nelles' house at the Grand River, the Mohawk Indian village (a
little below Brantford), the portage route to the Forks of the Thames
(London), and then down or along the River to Detroit. Joseph Brant with
about a dozen of his Indians accompanied the party from the Mohawk
Village to Delaware, doubtless to furnish them with game and guide them
over the long portage. The Indians excited admiration by their skill in
constructing wigwams of elm bark to lodge the company. After leaving the
Grand River the trail passed a Mississaga encampment, a trader's house,
fine open deer plains, several beaver dams, "an encampment said to have
been Lord Fitzgerald's when on his march to Detroit, Michilimackinac and
the Mississippi," a cedar grove; crossed a small branch of the La
Tranche, and the main branch soon afterwards; "went between an irregular
fence of stakes made by the Indians to intimidate and impede the deer,
and facilitate their hunting;" again they crossed the main branch of
the Thames,[18] and "halted to observe a beautiful situation, formed by
a bend of the river--a grove of hemlock and pine, and a large creek. We
passed some deep ravines and made our wigwam by a stream on the brow of
a hill, near a spot where Indians were interred. The burying ground was
of earth raised, nearly covered with leaves; and wickered over--adjoining
it was a large pole, with painted hieroglyphics on it denoting the
nation, tribes and achievements of the deceased, either as chiefs,
warriors, or hunters." This was on the 13th February. The food of the
party consisted of soup and dried venison, to which squirrel and racoon
meat added variety. Littlehales remarks about the latter: "The three
racoons when roasted made us an excellent supper. Some parts were
rancid, but in general the flesh was exceedingly tender and good." On
the 14th they encamped a few miles above the Delaware village. During
the day the diarist had "observed many trees blazed, and various
figures of Indians (returning from battle with scalps) and animals
drawn upon them, descriptive of the nations, tribes and number that had
passed. Many of them were well drawn, especially a bison."

      [18] This was no doubt where London now is.

"This day we walked over very uneven ground, and passed two lakes of
about four miles in circumference, between which were many fine larch

Next morning they walked on the ice of the river five or six miles to
the Delaware village, where the chiefs received them cordially and
regaled them with eggs and venison. "Captain Brant being obliged to
return to a council of the Six Nations, we stayed the whole day. The
Delaware Castle is pleasantly situated upon the banks of the Thames; the
meadows at the bottom are cleared to some extent, and in summer planted
with Indian corn. After walking twelve or fourteen miles this day, part
of the way through plains of white oak and ash, and passing several
Chippawa Indians upon their hunting parties, and in their encampments,
we arrived at a Canadian trader's; and a little beyond, in proceeding
down the river the Indians discovered a spring of an oily nature, which
upon examination proved to be a kind of petroleum. We passed another
wigwam of Chippawas, making maple sugar, the mildness of the winter
having compelled them in a great measure to abandon their annual
hunting. We soon arrived at an old hut where we passed the night."

On the 17th, after a journey of four or five miles, they passed the
Moravian Village which had been begun in May, 1792. The Delaware Indians
were "under the control, and in many particulars, under the command of
four missionaries, Messrs. Zeisberger, Senseman, Edwards and Young."
They were making progress towards civilization, and already had corn
fields and were being instructed in different branches of agriculture.
"At this place every respect was paid to the Governor, and we procured a
seasonable refreshment of eggs, milk and butter. Pursuing our journey
eight or nine miles, we stopped for the night at the extremity of a new
road, cut by the Indians and close to a creek."

"18th--Crossing the Thames and leaving behind us a new log house,
belonging to a sailor named Carpenter, we passed a thick, swampy wood of
black walnut, where His Excellency's servant was lost for three or four
hours. We then came to a bend of the La Tranche (Thames)[19] and were
agreeably surprised to meet twelve or fourteen carioles coming to meet
and conduct the Governor, who, with his suite, got into them, and at
about four o'clock arrived at Dolsen's, having previously reconnoitred a
fork of the river, and examined a mill of curious construction erecting
upon it. The settlement where Dolsen resides is very promising, the land
is well adapted for farmers, and there are some respectable inhabitants
on both sides of the river: behind it to the south is a range of
spacious meadows--elk are continually seen upon them--and the pools and
ponds are full of cray fish."

      [19] Afterwards referred to by the diarist as the high bank.

"From Dolsen's we went to the mouth of the Thames in carioles, about
twelve miles, and saw the remains of a considerable town of the
Chippawas, where, it is reported, a desperate battle was fought between
them and the Senecas, and upon which occasion the latter, being totally
vanquished, abandoned their dominions to the conquerors. Certain it is,
that human bones are scattered in abundance in the vicinity of the
ground, and the Indiana have a variety of traditions relative to this

      [20] Note Peter Jones' statement as quoted on page 28.

We pass over briefly the Governor's reception at Detroit. The Canadian
militia on the east bank fired a _feu de joie_. He crossed the river in
boats amidst floating ice. The garrison of Detroit was under arms to
receive His Majesty's representative. A royal salute was fired.

The farms, the apple orchards, windmills and houses close together on
the river bank gave an appearance of population and respectability.
Talbot's regiment, the 24th, was stationed at Detroit. Fort Lenoult and
the rest of the works were inspected. The party visited at the River
Rouge a sloop almost ready to be launched. They went to see the Bloody
Bridge, memorable for the slaughter of British troops by Pontiac 30
years before.

On the 23rd, the Governor left Detroit on his homeward journey. Col.
McKee, Mr. Baby and others escorting His Excellency as far as the high
bank where the carioles had met the party on the 18th. "Here we
separated; and each taking his pack or knapsack on his back, we walked
that night to the Moravian village."

On the 27th the chiefs at the village entertained the party with
venison, and dancing, "a ceremony they never dispense with when any of
the King's officers of rank visit their villages."

"28th.--At six we stopped at an old Misissaga hut, upon the south side
of the Thames. After taking some refreshment of salt pork and venison,
well cooked by Lieutenant Smith, who superintended that department, we,
as usual, sang God Save the King, and went to rest."

"March 1st.--We set out along the banks of the river; hen, ascending a
high hill, quitted our former path, and directed our course to the
northward. A good deal of snow having fallen, and lying still on the
ground, we saw tracks of otters, deer, wolves and bears and other
animals many of which being quite fresh induced the Mohawks to pursue
them, but without success. We walked 14 or 15 miles and twice crossed
the river, and a few creeks, upon the ice; once we came close to a
Chippawa hunting camp, opposite to a fine terrace, on the banks of which
we encamped, near a bay.  *  *  *  2nd.--We struck the Thames at one end
of a low flat island enveloped with shrubs and trees; the rapidity and
strength of the current were such as to have forced a channel through
the main land, being a peninsula, and to have formed the island. We
walked over a rich meadow, and at its extremity came to the forks of the
river.[21] The Governor wished to examine this situation and its
environs: and we therefore remained here all the day. He judged it to be
a situation eminently calculated for the metropolis of Canada. Among
many other essentials, it possesses the following advantages: command of
territory,--internal situation,--central position,--facility of water
communication up and down the Thames into Lakes St. Clair, Erie, Huron
and Superior,--navigable for boats to near its source, and for small
crafts probably to the Moravian settlement--to the northward by a small
portage to the waters flowing into Lake Huron--to the south-east by a
carrying place into Lake Ontario and the River St. Lawrence; the soil
luxuriantly fertile,--the land rich, and capable of being easily
cleared, and soon put into a state of agriculture,--a pinery upon an
adjacent high knoll, and other timber on the heights, well calculated
for the erection of public buildings,--a climate not inferior to any
part of Canada."

      [21] Now the city of London.

"To these natural advantages an object of great consideration is to be
added, that the enormous expenses of the Indian Department would be
greatly diminished, if not abolished; the Indians would, in all
probability, be induced to become the carriers of their own peltries,
and they would find a ready, contiguous, commodious, and equitable mart,
honorably advantageous to Government, and the community in general,
without their becoming a prey to the monopolizing and unprincipled

"The young Indians, who had chased a herd of deer in company with
Lieutenant Givens, returned unsuccessful, but brought with them a large
porcupine; which was very seasonable, as our provisions were nearly
expended. This animal afforded us a very good repast, and tasted like a
pig. The Newfoundland dog attempted to bite the porcupine, but soon got
his mouth filled with the barbed quills, which gave him exquisite pain.
An Indian undertook to extract them, and with much perseverance plucked
them out, one by one, and carefully applied a root or decoction, which
speedily healed the wound."

"Various figures were delineated on trees at the forks of the River
Thames, done with charcoal and vermillion; the most remarkable were the
imitations of men with deer's heads."

"We saw a fine eagle on the wing, and two or three large birds, perhaps

"3rd.--We were glad to leave our wigwam early this morning, it having
rained incessantly the whole night; besides, the hemlock branches on
which we slept were wet before they were gathered for our use.--We first
ascended the height at least 120 feet into a continuation of the pinery
already mentioned; quitting that, we came to a beautiful plain with
detached clumps of white oak, and open woods; then crossing a creek
running into the south branch of the Thames, we entered a thick swampy
wood, where we were at a loss to discover any track; but in a few
minutes we were released from this dilemma by the Indians, who making a
cast, soon descried our old path to Detroit. Descending a hill and
crossing a brook, we came at noon to the encampment we left on the 14th
of February, and were agreeably surprised by meeting Captain Brant and a
numerous retinue; among them were four of the Indians we had despatched
to him when we first altered our course for the forks of the River

On the 4th, after crossing brooks and rivulets, much swollen by a
thunder-storm, and passing the hut occupied by them on the 12th February
they noticed "very fine beech trees."

Next day:--"We again crossed one of the branches of the south-east fork
of the Thames, and halted in a cypress or cedar grove, where we were
much amused by seeing Brant and the Indians chase a lynx with their dogs
and rifle guns, but they did not catch it. Several porcupines were

On the 6th they reached the Mohawk village, crossing the river at a
different place and by a nearer route than before. The Indians had met
the Governor with horses at "the end of the plain, near the Salt Lick
Creek." The party finally arrived at Navy Hall on the 10th day of March.

At this period the overland route from Detroit to Niagara was apparently
well known. There was an annual "Winter-express" each way, which Simcoe
met on his westward journey on the 12th February and on his homeward
route on the 5th March. Littlehales mentions a Mr. Clarke as being with
it on each occasion. On their first meeting, the express was accompanied
by a Wyandot and a Chippawa Indian. The second time, Mr. Augustus Jones,
the surveyor, was either with or following it. He surveyed the
north-west part of Southwold in the following year. On the up trip, the
Governor's party met one man, who afterward proved to be a runaway thief
from Detroit. They were also overtaken by a traveller, who, as they were
subsequently informed, had got himself supplied with provisions and
horses to the Grand Rivet, and a guide from thence to Detroit, by the
false representation that he had despatches for the Governor. "He
quitted us under the plausible pretence of looking for land to establish
a settlement."

It appears that immediately after the capture of Niagara by Johnston in
1759, merchants from New England and Virginia had rushed in to
participate in the fur-trade, which until that time had been largely
monopolized by the French. As might be expected, many lawless acts were
committed by these adventurers, and various proceedings were adopted by
the Government to check and control them. After the American Revolution
land-hunters came into the peninsula and undertook to purchase lands
directly from the Indians. These purchases were ignored by the Land
Boards, who always repudiated the idea that the Indians were proprietors
of the land. No steps were taken however to locate settlers until the
Indian title by occupancy was surrendered to the Crown. Even then,
Simcoe's first step was to procure surveys for the purpose of
establishing military roads, fortified posts, dockyards, etc., in order
that when the settlers came they might be easily defended against
hostile attacks, whether from the Indians, the United States troops, or
the French or Spanish, who it was believed might invade the province by
way of the Mississippi, the Ohio and the upper lakes.

Patrick McNiff's survey of the River Thames, as far as the upper
Delaware village, was finished in 1793. His map is dated at Detroit on
the 25th June of this year. In it he mentions that "from the entrance to
the 12th lot of the 3rd township was surveyed two years since, from the
12th lot  *  *  *  to the upper village was surveyed in April and May

The map gives the "road leading from the Delawares to the Moravian
village," "corn-fields" along the east bank of the river, an Indian
village in the Southwold bend, and opposite on the southerly bank the
"road leading to the entrance of Kettle Creek[22] on Lake Erie. Five
hours' journey." It also shows the road leading to the Mohawk village on
the Grand River.

      [22] This disposes of the story told by Colonel Talbot to Mrs.
      Jamieson in 1837. He informed her that the name originated from
      his men having lost a kettle in the creek. But the creek was
      called Riviere a la Chaudiere or Kettle River by the French, and
      that is one of the names given to it in D. W. Smith's Gazetteer,
      of Upper Canada published in 1799.

The Moravian village is near the site of the battle field, and it is
marked "commenced in May, 1792." The present location of Dundas Street
and the Longwoods Road would appear to correspond with the roads east
and west of Delaware as laid down.[23] Simcoe in forwarding McNiff's
survey to Mr. Dundas on 20th September, 1793, thus refers to the Lake
Erie region:

      [23] The writer has not been able to see Mr. McNiff's report upon
      this survey.

"The tract of country which lies between the river (or rather navigable
canal as its Indian name and French translation import) and Lake Erie,
is one of the finest for all agricultural purposes in North America, and
far exceeds the soil or climate of the Atlantic States. There are few or
no interjacent swamps, and a variety of useful streams empty themselves
into the lake or the river."

The Governor makes frequent reference in his correspondence and state
papers to his plans for establishing the capital of Upper Canada at the
upper forks of the Thames, to be called Georgina, London or New London.
Down to the very time of his departure in 1796, and after the seat of
government had been transferred to York (now Toronto), he regarded the
latter as but a temporary capital, the real metropolis having yet to be
built at London in accordance with his original design.

Talbot remained in the service of the Lieutenant Governor until June
1794, when as Major of the 5th Regiment he departed for England under
orders for Flanders, carrying with him special letters of recommendation
from Simcoe to Dundas and to Mr. King, the Under Secretary of State. He
had been employed in various confidential missions. In 1793 he had been
sent to Philadelphia to await news from Europe, when war with France was
believed to be imminent. On the 22nd August, 1793, we find Talbot in
"the most confidential intercourse with the several Indian tribes," as
Simcoe expresses it, at the Miamis Rapids, where he had met the United
States Commissioners and the Confederated Indians to consider the
boundary question. In April, 1794; Simcoe was himself at the Falls of
the Miami, and he repeated the visit during the following September,
going by way of Fort Erie. This visit was a prolonged one; for we find
that in October he met an Indian Council at Brown's Town in the Miami
country. It is probable Talbot accompanied him in his capacity as
military secretary. The construction by Simcoe of the fort at the foot
of the rapids of the Miami in the spring of that year was an audacious
step, which might easily have produced a new war between the United
States and England, although Simcoe believed it had had the opposite
result, and prevented war. All disputes between the two nations were
however concluded by the treaty of 1794, usually called the Jay Treaty.
Provision was made for the abandonment of the frontier posts hitherto
occupied by English garrisons. Forts Niagara, Detroit, Miami and
Michilimackinac received American garrisons in 1796 or shortly
thereafter; English troops were stationed in new forts at St. Joseph's
Island, Malden, Turkey Point, Fort Erie, Toronto, etc. The English flag
floated no longer south of the great lakes. During the year 1796, Simcoe
went to England on leave of absence, and he never returned to Canada.


The Honorable Thomas Talbot received his company and his majority in the
same year, 1793. He was Colonel of the Fifth Regiment in 1795, at the
early age of twenty-five. After eight years of military service on the
Continent, partly in Flanders and partly at Gibraltar, he was still in
1803 a young man with every prospect that is usually considered alluring
to ambition. Suddenly, to the amazement of his friends and the public,
he abandoned the brilliant career upon which he had entered under so
favorable auspices, cut himself loose from civilization itself, and
buried himself in the recesses of the Canadian forest. He determined to
settle on the north shore of Lake Erie, where he had previously selected
a location on one of his journeyings with Governor Simcoe. Talbot had
formed plans for diverting the stream of immigration from the United
States, or rather for continuing its current as far as Upper Canada. He
would attract settlers from New York, Pennsylvania and New England, who
were dissatisfied with republican institutions or allured by the
fertility of the Lake Erie region, and would build up a loyal British
community, under the laws and institutions of the mother land.

It was a memorable event in the history of the County of Elgin, when on
the 21st day of May, 1803, landing at Port Talbot, he took an axe and
chopped down the first tree, thus inaugurating what has since been known
as the Talbot Settlement. Henceforward, Colonel Talbot, Port Talbot, the
Talbot Road, and the Talbot Settlement, are names inseparably connected
with the history of the making of Upper Canada.

At that time the nearest settlement on Lake Erie was near Turkey Point,
60 miles away. In 1802 there was but one settled minister west of
Niagara, Father Marchand, of Sandwich, a Roman Catholic priest. There
were but seven clergymen settled in the whole Province. The record[24]
states, however, that "Besides, there are several missionaries of the
Methodistical order, whose residence is not fixed." Even at that early
day the circuit-rider threaded the maze of forest between the Long Point
clearings and those near the mouth of the Thames, and made his way down
the Detroit River to the Essex shore of Lake Erie, where there was a
fringe of settlement. But, generally speaking, the country north of Lake
Erie to the borders of Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay was still a
wilderness of continuous unbroken forest.

      [24] Tiffany's Upper Canada Almanac, Niagara, 1802.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Country of the Neutrals - (As Far As Comprised in the County of Elgin),  From Champlain to Talbot" ***

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