A 19TH Century Canadian Time Capsule

European history writers often assumed that natives who strived to learn a foreign language did so because of an overwhelming awe for the intelligence of white man. The Sachem of a large Native Force, Mambertou, apparently suffered from this awe despite his own incredible feats described in the story:
“He made Pontrincourt promise to come back the next summer, and teach him those arts which made the white man superior to the Indian.”
“The chief admired the intelligence of the white men, and he wanted to be like them. He became a Roman Catholic, and he and his son learned to understand and speak French. The French people had taken great pains to learn the habits and the language of the Indians, in order that they might be able to teach the savages what it was important for them to know.”

The above is typical of our “civilized” world’s influence on an “uncivilized” culture – providing them with information that “we” decide is important for them to know. However, rather than learning how to find one’s own way in the woods from those who were superior at this task the ‘civilized’ folk simply resorted to ‘using’ guides:
“Father Beart could not go alone, for he did not know the way through the woods; there were no roads, and the country would all look alike, wild and dreadful to him. None of the other white men could help him, so he must have an Indian guide. The Indians could find their way by the sun and the stars by the moss on the trees, or by some little brook; or a crooked branch or an old stump; if they had ever seen it before, directed them, –just as you know what street you are in, by the looks of the shops and houses.”
Of course, the question as to whether you can trust your ‘savage’ guide must have arisen… >“Well, my dear children, this Indian told the poor, sick Frenchman that he thought he would die, and he said ‘when the son of Mambertou returned to Port Royal, alone, the white chiefs will look at him, and will say that he has killed his white brother.’ Then he asked Father Beart to give him a written paper, saying that he felt himself likely to die, and wished to clear the character of his guide, and that he had therefore signed this paper, in case any body should suspect the guide of having acted unfairly. Poor Beart was very ill, but he was still in possession of all his strength of mind. He suspected what the Indian intended to do, and answered him, ‘No, I shall not give you such a paper; I see the wicked thoughts you have in your heart, and know that you want to kill me.’ When the Indian heard this, he was greatly terrified; he thought that the white man could read all his thoughts, and must be a great magician”
The French did show a great deal of respect for Mambertou:
“His white friends showed him the kindest attention but medicine could not cure him
He was buried at Port Royal with the military honors due the rank of Commandant his funeral was attended by an immense concourse of Indians, who assembled round Port Royal in such numbers, that their watchfires illuminated the woods for many successive nights.”

1843-1846 Snapshots:

The following literary snapshots of life in the 1840’s provide ample material from the time capsule. Miss Grove managed to make a few words worth a thousand pictures.

Road conditions haven’t changed much for winter driving:

“The christmas holidays at length arrived”… “George’s first evening, however, was fully occupied in telling of the excellent sleighing on the Windsor Road, and in repeating the stories he had heard of the overturns suffered by coach, and coach passengers, between that place and Horton.”