A 19TH Century Canadian Time Capsule

“The Indians came so secretly and unexpectedly, said George, that it was impossible to guard against them. They passed the forts by night; or, hid by the trees of the forest, they glided silently along paths which none but an Indian could find; and when pursued, they hid themselves in swamps and thick woods, where no white man could follow them. They attacked and killed families with such quickness and secrecy, and retreated so swiftly, that before the alarm was given, the murderers were far away out of the reach of pursuit. Sometimes they carried their victims, in order to put them to a lingering death, or to extort from their families a ransom.” “…if you think the Indians should be called savages and barbarous, when a French man (Charnise) puts a whole garrison to death, and the English council treat a faithful old friend (Rene Leblanc) as if he were a wicked thief
“We have certainly no reason to be proud of this act of our ancestors… but we must not forget what great provocation they had, and with what jealousy all Protestants and English were, in those times, accustomed to look on persons who spoke the French language, and were of the Romish faith.”

“You forget, said her mother, in your desire to prove that Indians were not more savage than the other inhabitants of Nova Scotia, that all the French were not Charnise’s”
Miss Grove seems to think that it was acceptable to generalize that all Natives were savage, but not to generalize about the ‘civilized’ nations. ”

The Indians always traveled rapidly; and when their captives, exhausted with climbing rock precipices-crossing deep and rapid brooks, and struggling through imperceptible paths in the wilderness, were unable to keep pace with their captors, they were driven forward by blows. When night came, their sufferings were not less: they could not eat the food which was given them, and they were tortured by the insects that abound in the forest”
“if the ground was covered with snow, they were obliged to use snow-shoes, to which they were not accustomed; and then awkwardness and frequent falls in the snow only excited the anger or merriment of the savages. If there was no snow, their feet became torn and bleeding.”.

The above text is among my favourite selections. Many of the examples about ill treatment of prisoners in 1843 are sports at present: hiking, camping, mountain-climbing, and snow-shoeing. Imagine being forced to eat the food that these savages ate! Imagine the horror of insect bites! Imagine the humiliation of falling from your snow-shoes only to be laughed at by your captors!

“…old Mr. Douglas Scott you know who lives at the corner: I think he is one of the Scotchment who named it (Nova Scotia); he is very old, and his hair is white as snow; and when he walks he totters, and his head is bent forward, and you know what droll shoes he wears…”