I have native Indian in my blood, and I grew up listening to stories about my ancestry. I was always fascinated with this part of my family’s ancestry.
Grade 7 history was my favourite: we learned more in-depth about the Algonquin Indians. We learned how they met the Europeans. The Algonquin tribe was spread out across Canada and the United States, they weren’t just concentrated in one area.
Today, I’m writing about, wait for it, my great-great-great-great grandfather.
So, my ancestor is Mathew Bernard of Ontario. I wish I had had a chance to meet him, but he passed away 2 years before I was born. Wow, what he must have seen within his lifetime!
Mathew Bernard is renowned for building the world’s largest birch-bark canoe. It’s currently on display at the National Museum of Canada. It was built in 1955, with my great-great-great-great grand-uncle.
My pride in this entire story though, is NOT about the canoe at all. My great-great-great-great grandmother was Christiane Aird Partridge. She was an Indian princess. Ancestry is so cool!
Mathew Bernard, at the young age of 81, was commissioned to construct a replica of canoes used over 150 years ago. These canoes were used by fur traders, explorers and traders. They were referred to as a “Montreal Canoe” or “Canoe du Maitre”. Unfortunately, the canoe was not finished in time for the opening of the Museum in Ottawa. However, the canoe embarked on a maiden voyage across Golden Lake (where a few of my maternal relatives still live today), manned by 16 Algonquin paddlers.
This kind of canoe is so special and rare. Modern materials were not used in the construction of the canoe. The goal of any canoe construction is to keep the vessel as light and easy to carry as possible.
I found a photo and a tiny bit of information about the grandson of my great-great-great-great grandfather. But haven’t yet been able to contact him. Or establish what our exact relation actually is.
Have you ever looked into your ancestry? I invite you to share your story!