A History of the Rice Lake Indians by Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson

Journals of the Legislative Assembly

Appendix to the 4th Vol. of the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, 1844-1845, entitled the Mississaugas of Alnwick.

Evidence of the Chief Superintendent; ditto of the Rev. Wm. Case, Appendix, No. 15 and No. 41

These Indians were converted to Christianity in the years 1826-27. They were then pagan, wandering in the neighbourhood of Belleville, Kingston, Gananoque, and were known under the name of the Mississaugas of the Bay of Quinte; in those years between 200 and 300 were received into the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and settled on Grape Island, where they commenced planting and where schools were established by the Missionary for their instruction. On this island they resided for 11 years, subsisting by agriculture and hunting.

Their houses were erected partly by their own labour, and partly at the expense of the Methodist Missionary Society. The number, at length, amounted to 23; besides which they had a commodious building for religious service and schools, another room for an infant school, a hospital, a smithy, a shoemakers shop, and a building for joiners and cabinet work.

These, however, were relinquished, to be sold for their benefit, in 1830, when they removed to a block of Crown Lands granted them by the Lieut-Governor, Sir John Colborne, in the Township of Alnwick not far from Rice Lake, fifteen miles northeast from Cobourg. This plot, which contains 2,000 acres, is divided into Lots of 25 acres each. The village or street, which is called Alderville, is about a mile and a half in length. It contains 36 houses, 6 barns, a schoolhouse, in which divine worship is performed, all erected under direction of the Indian Dep't; out of an annuity of £642 10s to which this band is entitled for the surrender of a vast tract in the rear of the Johnstown and Midland Districts. Of the 36 dwelling houses, 22 are framed, and the remainder are of square logs, all of commodious size and internal arrangement. The barns are framed, of 40 by 30 feet in dimensions.

There are also a parsonage house, and school buildings erected at the expense of the Methodist Missionary Society.

These Indians are 233 in number; each family has at least half its lots cleared, and several have nearly the whole under cultivation. The total quantity cleared is between 360 and 400 acres. The stock belonging to these Indians consists of 8 yoke of oxen, 2 horses, 11 cows, 21 heifers and calves, a quantity of pigs and poultry. They possess 8 ploughs, 6 harrows, 3 carts and wagons, and 12 ox-sleds. Their progress in industry and agriculture is satisfactory.

When on Grape Island, a cabinetmaker, blacksmith, a shoemaker, and occasionally a tailor, were employed by the Methodist Society to instruct these Indians in their several trades. Although it was found difficult to keep the scholars at their work and considerable losses were sustained in the undertaking yet the Indians showed unusual ingenuity and gained considerable knowledge in these branches, which has been of much use to them since their settlement at Alnwick, where no shops have as yet been erected. At present, only one man pursues his calling, as a house joiner and carpenter for a livelihood, but others occasionally work at tailoring, or at making and repairing agricultural implements.

The change produced by their conversion and their progress in Christianity.

WebPage courtesy of Totem Consulting www.totemconsulting.ca