A couple of months ago the Huronia chapter of the
Ontario Archaeological Society embarked on a quest to find one of the original
homesteads of a Metis/Voyager family that came from Drummond Island to the
Naval and Military Establishments at the head of Penetanguishene Bay.
My assumption, when we began this search, was that
most of these families that arrived here, stayed here and settled on the
military reserve lots set aside for the loyalist Metis on the west side of
Penetanguishene Bay opposite to the Establishments.
It is interesting to note that not all who arrived here, stayed here.
Some returned to what was now US territory and others to areas around the Sault
that had remained under British rule. Some went to points south like Holland
Landing and even York (now Toronto). Others went up the shore to places like
Byng Inlet and the area around Parry Sound. But most stayed around Penetang or
at least in northern Simcoe County.
So now we can focus our search on north Simcoe. The
records indicate that 40 plus families acquired Park lots that were, for the
most part, on the west shore of Penetang Bay with some showing properties in
what by 1840 was rapidly developing into the village of Penetang at the south
end of the bay. But, where did the others go? Were there other Metis
communities developing besides Penetang?
is also clear from the record that some 11 families seem to have developed
their homesteads close to the mouth of the Wye river on or close to the “old
Fort”. This clearly references the ruins of Ste. Marie among the Hurons build
by the Jesuits in 1639 and abandoned and burnt down in the spring of 1649.
These families salvaged much of the stonework from this site and recycled it
for use in their homes. One entrepreneur by the name of Baptiste Bruneau attempted to
establish an organized subdivision of lots that became the first such plan to
be registered in the township of Tay. Being close to the river mouth and
bordered by what is now the Wye Marsh, this was prime land for those who wanted
to continue in their lives as hunters, fishers and trappers.
that are recorded as settling at “old Fort” are: Bareille, Bellval, Bruneau, Fortin, Martin, Oreille,
Quebec, Rondeau, St. Amand and Thibault.
Another group of people who most likely shared the
same interests as those on the Wye settled close to what the Huron/Wendat knew
as Cranberry Lake, now known as the Tiny Marsh, on lots between the 1st and 3rd
concessions of Tiny township.
The family names of Metis settlers at Cranberry Lake are Adam, Descheneau,
Gerroux, Goderoi, LeGris, Lépine, Peltier, Payette, Pricour and Roy.
families appear to have acquired land more suitable to farming. Some of these
properties can be found on lots that front on what was the military road, soon
to become known as the Penetang road. This is now closely aligned with County
Road 93 between Waverly and Penetang.
The family names who appears to have settled on the military road are Corbier,
Corbière, Leduc, Legris, Vasseur.
families went further east towards Orillia and settled on land on the shores of
Matchedash Bay that would develop into the villages of Victoria Harbour,
Waubashene and Coldwater.
The family names of Metis who settled near the shores of Matchedash Bay are
Barbou, Berger, Craddock, Deschambault, Dusang, Labatte, Paradis, Parissien, Prousse.
group of settlers to seek out homesteads away from Penrtang Bay were those who
acquired land on lots in and around St Croix, soon to be renamed Lafontaine.
These properties were in the 15th, 16th and 17th
concessions of Tiny township most of which fronted on what we now know as Rue
Lafontaine between Simcoe County Road 6 and Cedar Point Road.
Family names associated with the Metis settlement of Lafontaine include Amiotte,
Boucher, Coté, Corbiere, Descheneau, Labatte, LaCroix, Lafreniere, Larammee, Mecier,
Messier, Pombird, Precourt, Thibault, Vasseur.
addition to those families with homesteads associated with the village of
Lafontaine there were also some outliers to the north of the village on the
roads and trails leading to and on the beach of Thunder Bay itself. The only
Metis homestead of that time that was built on the beach in 1834 was that of
the Labatte’s. That family arrived in Thunder Bay by accident when they were
shipwrecked on their way to Meaford.
For more information on the Labatte homestead and the family who lived
there drop into the “Labatte Homestead Rendezvous” Saturday June 22nd
at the beach.