Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation

Frequently, when visiting the Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover...or the beach for the day...we'd stop either en route there (or the return) at Hewitt's Dairy Bar along Highway 6 for lunch or simply to savour their luscious ice creams offering over 60 flavours from pineapple to cotton candy, from butter pecan to blueberry, etc. etc. etc. Lunches are served at their diner-style-counter featuring homemade burgers, western sandwiches, BLT's...and top it off with a milkshake or banana split! Breakfast is served all day, every day. The coolers offer milk and milk products to purchase.

Nearby is a sign on the west side of Hwy. 6...New Credit Indian Reserve (also known as The Mississaugas of the First Nations)...which I've always known as the Six Nations Reservation. Frequently, I've driven into the Reserve to buy gas (which is a lesser cost than the highway fuel prices). With a friend, Mary once, she was frightened to do so...firmly believing we'd be attacked by tomahawks or spears. She had expected to see teepees as the Indian homesteads...maybe even warriors...however, she was amazed to discover that they live peacefully in houses as we do. Their properties are well maintained and very tidy. They have televisions and modern cars. On that occasion, we stopped at a restaurant on the Reserve...and Mary was delighted they served 'Canadian food' and offered glasses of Niagara wine. Attached was a spacious gallery filled with sculptures and paintings...craft hobbies of the restaurant owner.

Oshweken is a village on the Grand River First Nation Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. Approximately 300 of the 2,700 homes on the Reserve are in the village. It is the site of the Reserve Governmental and Administrative Offices. Located here are Veteran’s Park…Gaybird Powless Arena…Iroquois Village Plaza... and a Speedway. Annual events: Six Nations Fall Fair…Bread and Cheese Celebration… National Aboriginal Day...Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow…and Elder Network.
Media: two Community Newspapers...Turtle Island News and Two Row Times. A community Radio Station broadcasts a variety of programs ~ local news, music, language lessons and radio bingo.

In the village is Chiefswood National Historical Site; the museum at 1037 Highway 54 in Ohsweken, is the birthdplace and childhood home of the famous Six Nations poet and writer, Emily Pauline Johnson. It has since been restored to the 1880 period.

The Native Indians come from all walks of life: actors, politicians and volunteers, civil servants, poets, athletes, etc. They have recreation centres, grocery stores, garages, craft shops, churches, meeting halls and various other stores. Such a pleasure it is to see the 'native art work', the crafted leather jackets adorned with feathers and beads; pottery and beaded jewellery, paintings and sculptures, many 'dream-catchers' (I have two hanging in my home). At Christmas time, I bought unique native-made a few other items as gifts for family and friends...which were uniquely appreciated.

The Grand River, since pioneer days, has been their ‘highway’ for trading, transportation, recreation and fishing. Today, it is a tranquil drive along the river as it approaches Caledonia along Highway 6.

Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation...
is the largest First Nation band in Canada with a total of 25,660 members. Some 12,271 are reported living on the reserves. It is the only reserve in North America that has all six Iroquois nations living together: the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora. Some Delaware also live in the territory. The vast Six Nation Reserve is bordered by: the County of Brant, City of Brantford, Norfolk County, Haldimand County...and the New Credit Indian Reserve. The acreage at present, covers some 46,000 acres ~ representing approximately 5% of the original 950,000 acres of land granted to the Six Nations by the1784 Haldimand Treaty.
So much history to comprehend and a heritage to appreciate.
There are numerous Indian Reserves located
throughout Canada's ten Provinces and three Territories.

Ellsworth Huntington commented,
The coast of British Columbia
was one of the chief centres of Aboriginal America.”

A Sunday-Drive Destination, if in the area (offsite from Indian territory), is Ruthven... Haldimand Hwy. #54 near Cayuga. Ruthven Park National Historic Site consists of approximately 1500 acres and is situated along the banks of the Canadian Heritage Grand River. It was owned by five generations of the Thompson family from 1845-1993. The major feature on the estate landscape is an exceptionally fine 1845 Greek Revival mansion filled with original family furnishings and possessions. David Thompson, soldier, politician and businessman, built Ruthven as a symbol of his prosperity. A visit to Ruthven may include a guided tour of the mansion...hiking on one of four trails...even 'High Tea' on a summer Sunday afternoon. The restored 'Coach House' is used for special events or programmes and can be rented for mid-sized gatherings and conferences.
The property and mansion today is a project of the Lower Grand River Trust Inc.
located at 243Haldimand Hwy. #54 near Cayuga, Ontario (east of Hwy. 6).
Open year-round, it's worth the drive to Ruthven!

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled March 4, 2015
Comments are to:


  1. SHERRIE COMMENTS:"Beautifully written story by you about your past experiences in this wonderful world of ours. I have been out there numerous times since my childhood...and there is something so magical about our native peoples. This is a delightful read for us all today! A glimpse into your past and feelings about something so near and close to our hearts. We shall revisit it some day soon and thanks for the wonderful reminder.

  2. Thank you Sherrie for your great feelings about a place so near and close to our hearts! I trust others will be inspired to take time to visit our
    native tribes. Ruthven is also a unique place to spend a few hours.

  3. MEG WRITE: "Very good, as usual...hugs."

  4. It fascinates me just how readers are intrigued by certain writings (which when posting them, seem often quite trite to me! Thanks as always for your interest.

  5. MOM AND DAD: "What a beautiful and educational blog.
    There is so much to learn about this community. I have really enjoyed this reading and will share it with my friends...
    thanks, Merle"

  6. Dilu...a wonderful tribute to the couple of experiences
    about which I reiterated. Trust this will incite you to visit these places once spring arrives on our doorstep(s)!