Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 51 > Page 53 - Crusing Cape Breton, 1878 & 1884

Page 53 - Crusing Cape Breton, 1878 & 1884

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/2/1 (166 reads)

Breton Island, yet were destined to be robbed of their inheri? tance by the law of the strongest. It is a fact that the Indians of Cape Breton still consider themselves to be the rightful owners of the island, and, while living on friendly terms with the whites because obliged to do so, bear them no good will. It is not so many years since an open attempt was made to assert these views, when, under the influence of liquor, a number of them un? dertook to break into a house, violently declaiming against the invasion of their rights. At present no one is allowed to sell liquor to these Indians, and they are, for the most part, an inoffensive race, devoted to a life of indolence, with intervals given to fish? ing and the making of tubs and baskets. The Indians of Cape Breton are Micmacs, and number, per? haps, two thousand. There is a large settlement of them at Why? cocomagh, where they live in neat huts on a reservation of two thousand acres. Near the western end of the Bras d'Or they own an islet, called Indian Island, on which there is a large Roman Catholic church. Once a year, on the third of August, they as? semble there from all this region, put up wigwams for the occa? sion, and spend a week in reviving Indian games and ceremoni? als. Religious services are also performed in the church, which are intended to sanctify them for the ensuing twelvemonth. Each individual is expected to give the priest ten cents before he can be absolved. As these Indians are wretchedly poor, receiving pay in kind for what they produce, it is said that many find it diffi? cult to contribute even this minute offering. 1878: At night we again anchored, at Grand Narrows, and skip? per and I repeated our foraging expedition. We were lucky enough to come across some very nice people, bearing the fa? mous names of M'Niel and M'Donald. The next moming, just after we hove up anchor, a boat overtook us, bringing a supply of milk and eggs from our friends of the previous evening, which very materially added to the slender stock of pork, beans, and molasses, that consti? tuted the commissariat of the Anna Maria. But generally the people are a pretty rough set, with a decided talent for brawling and drinking. When we were going aboard at night, we came across three sturdy fellows, well braced with gin, and altogether too willing to fire off the guns they carried to make them pleasant companions, especially as they seemed inclined to pick a quarrel. But evading them in the dari<, we were the first to reach the boat, beached under cover of some rushes, and shoved oft for the schooner. After leaving Grand Narrows, the passage widened into a broad lake some twenty miles across at the widest, deeply indented wth bays, and studded wth large islands. Fish and game abound there. While we were becalmed, signs of mackerel appeared, and all hands got out their lines, and each man took his allotted place by the side of the vessel; but, after a few minutes of spirited sport, A WIGWAM CRADLE of its shores, golden were its waters, and golden the tranquil sky which overhung and imparted to it half its wealth of beauty. The shooting-stars and the night-breeze came together, and we watched the one and glided gently along before the other, until at midnight we again neared dangerous navigation, and came to an an? chor. On the following day we passed a noted Indian settlement, where there is a large church with some wigwams. The Indians of this region assemble in spring and summer on their island, and attempt to keep up the dances and other ceremonies peculiar to their ancestors. The scenery now became exceedingly romantic and beautiful, often resembling the Thousand Islands, and the region is so little inhabited as scarcely to seem a country that has been settled for two hundred years. Islands of all sizes, sometimes mere knolls tufted with birches and pines, divide the lake into numerous winding channels for a long distance. The ship-channel is often so narrow and tortuous that it was with great difficulty that even our short schooners, capable of the fish left us, and a breeze sprung up and fanned us along through the afternoon. To the sportsman, few places offer greater at? tractions than the Bras d'Or, in summer and ear? ly autumn. At sundown the fleet was becalmed in the middle of the lake, which was glowing and magnificent beyond description, under the splen dor of a sunset of extraordinary beauty and va? riety of tint and hue. As I gazed, entranced, on that spectacle, I did not wonder that they called that sea strait, so rarely combining lake and riv? er, the Bras d'Or. Golden was the autumnal glory The Cape Bretoner Motel indoor Pool Banquet Facilities 560 KING'S ROAD SYDNEY NOVA SCOTIA PHONE (902) 539-8101 Completely Renovated with New Suites Licensed Restaurant and Quiet Lounge 'tlJB'LaM?? Bumper Boats • Mini Golf • Baseball Machines Golf Driving Range • Go Karts • Water Slides 794-7172 • OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK - 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. DAILY Just 10 minutes from NFLD. Ferry 4 miles West of North Sydney on Route 305 Take Exit 3 off Route 125 at Boisdale, Grand Narrows CANTEEN SERVICES mm iFm mn wmm mmi
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