Category Archives: First Nations

First Nations history and culture

Native Women’s Quilt of Tears

The Chippewa Barn Quilters Group Commemorated First Nation Women & Families of the War of 1812

Thursday, September 27, 2012 at the Antler River Seniors Centre, north of Muncey Village

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Hosted by Tom and Trish May Farms, 677 Longwoods Road, Wardsville.

Brock gave Tecumseh a Pocket Compass when they met to plan their attack on Fort Detroit. After his death at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, a warrior requested that the compass be engraved in Tecumseh’s memory.

“Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the clouds, the great sea as well as the earth?” Tecumseh asked. Tecumseh had a genius for strategy.  He was a man of intelligence, eloquence, courage and character, a relentless enemy but a merciful victor to captives. He was respected and held in high esteem by friend and foe alike. While fierce and fearless in warfare, Tecumseh was an honourable opponent. Ever “merciful and magnanimous,” this “gallant and impetuous spirit” learned idealism and compassion from his brother The Prophet, and was never savage or sadistic to his captives.

When no less a personage than Isaac Brock said of him, “A more sagacious or gallant warrior does not exist,” he was speaking of one of the continent’s unforgettable sachems, perhaps, the most lauded Aboriginal leader in North American history.

Excerpt from Upper Canada History Narratives: Tecumseh

Old Indian Trail

 Hosted by Bonwill Farm, 7694 Longwoods Rd., Mt. Brydges, ON

Nothing but league upon league of seemingly unending wilderness. That is what my children and I encountered as we attempted to traverse the old Indian trail through the Long Woods. My husband, Major Adam Muir of the 41st Regiment of Foot had been captured, so as we watched our home in Fort Malden burn on that day in October 1813, my only thought was to go east.

With only a decrepit wagon and an ailing horse, my young children and I set off alone and unprotected, following the directions we had been given to Ward’s Tavern.  The first night, the Wards welcomed us with simple satisfying fare.  With great reluctance we began an even more arduous arm of our journey the next morning. The road built by the Moravians to a width of 15 feet narrowed as we continued eastward.

Master Ward instructed us to keep a lookout for the hatchet marks on the tall trees but they were difficult to see along the path where no sunshine penetrated the thick, overhanging trees. Swampy land, slippery fallen leaves and steep ravines hindered our advance. Many times I feared we would not again find the trail.

We witnessed rough, cone-shaped shelters constructed of wood and branches along the way. I believe Master Ward referred to them as ‘’wigwams”.  Despite our weariness, I was reluctant to tarry for fear of wild animals and wandering soldiers.

Although others were journeying in an eastern direction as well, we only encountered travelers after we reached the settlement of Delaware where the Brigham family kindly provided shelter and sustenance.  We stayed briefly and left hurriedly to make our way to York.

Written by Anne Carruthers, February 2012

In the Midst of Alarms; The Untold Story of Women and the War of 1812, Dianne Graves, 2007, Robin Brass Studio Inc., Montreal, Que. Pg.285-286

Stott, Glenn, Greater Evils: The War of 1812 in Southwestern Ontario, G. Stott Publishing, Arkona, ON, pg.

Moravian Diaries

Character is Maria Muir

Baby Blocks

Frances Kilbourne narrates the story “Baby Blocks” she wrote for the quilt block installed on the barn owned by Jim and Debbie Atchison, home to Lucky Lodge.  The large brick house owned by Jack and Adeline Quarrier RN  at   7221 Longwoods Road Melbourne   was the Lucky Lodge Maternity Hospital from 1948 to 1957.  During the summer she operated tourist cabins and in the winter, Mrs Quarrier along with  Dr. H.H. Washburn, G.P. from Melbourne, provided maternity care  to over 500 mothers and new babies.

Frances’s story comes from the Moravian Diaries which describe the turmoil caused by Proctor’s Retreat and the Battle of the Thames. The photos feature moments during the community project to design, paint, and install the barn quilts along Longwoods Road.

Awaiting the birth of their babies, mothers-to-be prepared warm coverings.  The settler stitched a quilt.  The native women prepared skins and furs.  Perhaps the expectant mothers knew each other, visited, and shared their secret fears.  This was 1813…
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Basket Weave

Hosted by Gus and Betty Fletcher, 6278 Longwoods Road, Melbourne, Southwest Middlesex, ON

Before there were big box stores, pharmacies and druggists, there was an incredible variety of local plants and trees. The Chippewas used the surrounding forest and tallgrass prairies for enrichment and even survival. The black ash tree was the wood of choice for basket making.

The black ash tree was the wood of choice for basket making. Logs of 6 to 8 feet were cut and the bark removed.  The log was pounded with a mallet until it separated into strips.   With meticulous skill the strips were woven into baskets. Pack baskets were mounted on the worker’s back with a tump line or burden strap across the forehead. They were used to gather corn and firewood, and even carrying a child.

Baskets for hulling and washing had sieve-like bottoms. Sifting baskets had various sized lattice bottoms. Baskets were made for berry picking and large flat evaporating trays were used to dry  the berries.  These beautifully-made practical works of art were used as trade goods or sold for cash.

The Anishnawbe people made medicines from local plants. Salves and tonics were created from roots and leaves, barks and needles of trees.

A rattlesnake bite?   Plantain leaves would help.  Sore eyes?  Sap of soft  maple will ease them. Head cold? A fragrant pine concoction poured over hot rocks will make breathing easier.  Fat from bears or raccoons made a medicinal rub.

Sharing their skills and knowledge of these treasures, the skilled neighbours eased the hardships of pioneer life.

Written by Frances Kilbourne, February 2012

OTTAWA  Government Printing Bureau  1916.