Searching for the Mississauga of the Credit River: Departure
By Meaghan FitzGibbon
In several past issues of the Heritage News I have been sharing my findings about the Mississauga Nation who made the Credit River area their home. I have discussed the Treaties they signed with the British government, the village they lived in, and how the Treaties I researched related to their lives and home at the Credit River. In this last article I will discuss how those treaties attributed to their decision to leave the Credit River and move to the Grand River in 1847.
As early as 1840, the Mississauga decided to leave the Credit River because of white encroachment and because they could not secure title to the land on which they were living. New locations were discussed including Muncey Town and the Saugeen River near Owen Sound. These locations did not pan out for various reasons, such as the suitability of land and the lack of Government support. The Mississauga were running out of time. They had already given the land to the government to sell and J.S. Dennis had already surveyed the land. It was at this point that the Six Nations offered them land on their reserve on the Grand River. The Six Nations remembered “that when their fathers came down from the Mohawk River” the Mississauga had given them “the Tract they now owned.” This was a reference to the 1784 Treaty which provided the Six Nations with land at the Grand River.
Even before the Mississauga officially accepted the Six Nations’ offer, the Government was preparing to sell the lands around the Credit River. A notice appeared advertising an auction of the “Mississaugas of the Credit land at Port Credit” including the “Mill Block, Park and Town Lots,” which was to take place on Tuesday April 27th 1847.
In 1847, 266 people left the Credit River for the Six Nations Reserve. Not all the Mississauga left the Credit River that year. When the 1851 census was taken, only twelve “Indians” were still living in Peel County. Eleven people, designated as such were found living in the southern portion of Toronto Township but not necessarily within the mile one on either side of the Credit River. It is impossible to know, if the eleven people were part of the Mississauga First Nation. One exception, however, was a man named Lawrence Heckmere (Hackamor). It is likely that he is Lawrence Herkimer, the brother of William and Jacob Herkimer. Lawrence was a widower living with his son David. His wife, Mary was listed as having died in the year 1851 from water on the brain. Lawrence and David were also listed in the 1851 Tuscarora Census. Being listed in two censuses can happen. Also, living in Toronto Township, according to the Census, were the Fonger family and James Brant. Beside their names, the enumerator noted that “these Indians about to remove to the Grand River.” Therefore, 266 Mississauga First Nations may have left in 1847, but this was not all of the Mississauga that lived in Toronto Township at the time and more continued to leave after 1847.
My placement with Heritage Mississauga as the First Nations Treaty researcher was a amazing experience. I will look back on this internship as one of the highlights of my university career. I would like to thank Heritage Mississauga for creating this position and for allowing me to use its Heritage Newsletter to share my experience and my discoveries. .
Canada. Indian Treaties and Surrenders: Treaties 1-138. vol.1, 1891, reprinted 1992.
---. Censuses of Canada 1608- 1876: Statistics of Canada, vol V. Ottawa: MacLean, Roger and Co. 1878.
---. Census of Canada 1851-2.
Jones, Peter. Life and Journals of Kah-ke-wa-quo-na-by (Rev. Peter Jones). Toronto: Anson Green, 1860.
Land Abstracts. Region of Peel Land Registry. (microfilm)
Paudash Papers, Region of Peel Archives (microfilm).
Smith, Donald B. “The Dispossession of the Mississauga Indians: A Missing Chapter in the Early History of Upper Canada.” Ontario History LXXII (June 1981).
---. “Their Century and a Half on the Credit.” In Mississauga: The First 10,000 Years. ed. by Frank A. Dieterman. Toronto: Mississauga Heritage Foundation, 2002.
---. “The Mississauga, Peter Jones, and the White man: The Algonkians’ Adjustment to the Europeans on the North Shore of Lake Ontario to 1860”. Ph.D. diss. University of Toronto, 1975.
---. Peter Jones, the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Indian Department of Upper Canada, 1825-1847.
---. Sacred Feathers: The Reverend Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby) & the Mississauga Indians. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987.