Friday, April 12, 2019


While doing research regarding historical/archaeological sites that might be threatened by a change to the cultural landscape as a result of the proposed development of some industrial land across the Wye River from the Shrine and Ste. Marie I came across references to the settlement of Bruneauville. Bruneauville was a registered plan of subdivision for a village on the west side of the Wye River in the west 1/2 of lot 16 con 3 of Tay Township.

This plan of subdivision (Plan # 185) was registered in 1873 by Julien Bruneau who was associated with the Bruneau/Casselman site (BeGx-33) on the east bank of the Wye River south of Ste. Marie.

The Bruneau family is assumed to be part of the Metis community that settled on the Wye River close or on the site of the "Old Fort" later to be determined as Ste. Marie among the Hurons.

Upon a closer look at the old maps of Tay Township it would appear clear that the lot line between lots 16 and   17 con 3 runs through the site proposed for the industrial development in question and this was confirmed upon a further reading of the Town of Midland's staff report on the proposed development where the subject lands are described as part of lots 16 and 17 con 3 (formerly in Tay Township).

Was Bruneauville ever here? Has anyone ever looked for sign of this Metis village settlement? It would appear that A F Hunter found evidence of Bruneauville (see Jesuit Relations XIX notes for Hunters sketch of Ste. Marie) directly across the river from Ste. Marie and it would further appear from the historical record that some of the lots were sold to the British Canadian Lumber Company.

Is this site of historical significant? Should attempts be made to preserve it or at least have it marked as an early settlement of the Metis community of this area?

I have attempted to make the existence of this site known to the current Metis community and hope that their desire to establish further evidence of their historic community in this area may result in at least a plaque to noting the location of this early attempt to settle the mouth of the Wye River as one of the homes for the Metis who migrated here as a result of the War of 1812.

Update - Since this post was written some 7 years ago the Huronia chapter has recently embarked on an effort to find an original homestead structure that would have been built on land first acquired by the Metis who arrive at Penetang from Drummond Is. starting in 1828.
Of the 288 people who arrived at that time, some returned back to the Sault Ste. Marie area, others up the shore to Parry Sound and Byng Inlet, some south to the Barrie and Holland Landing area. Most of those who remained here I had assumed settled on park lots in the military reserve across from the military and naval establishments.
What I have learned since is that it was not just Mr. Bruneau who settled at the "old Fort Ste. Marie". He settled there with about 10 other Metis families in the Wye river valley on land that would overlap the remains of the Jesuit mission.
So, whether Bruneauville was a success or a failure, it is obvious that a historic Metis community existed in the Wye Valley outside of Midland.
The families that are recorded as settling there are: Bareille, Bellval, Bruneau, Fortin, Martin, Oreille,  Quebec, Rondeau, St. Amand and Thibault.

1 comment:

John Raynor said...

I did go to the planning department at Tay Township but their records do not go back that far. Anyone wanting to peruse a search for the documents and possible sketch plan that would have been submitted with this plan could do so at the Simcoe County land registry in Barrie or perhaps the Simcoe County Archives in Midhurst.
The plan # and all other relevant search criteria are note in "Before & Beyond Ste. Marie". This report is available at the Huronia Museum gift-shop/bookstore.