Our First Settlers – Part Five

Burlington Gazette - History by Helen Langford

Our First Settlers - Part Five
Tues., November 15, 1977

The recent warm spell of our ‘Indian Summer’ prompted many pleasant recollections of happy childhood days with Indian friends. Many of the old-timers in Burlington share these fond memories. Indian families helped on many of the farms. The men were often very ingenious mechanically and all were natural growers, maybe from an inborn closeness to nature.

Feedback from two Gazette readers has prompted this interjection in the continuity of our history more legends or stories will come forth. Mrs. Harry Long recalled a family story of a young Indian couple who arrived on foot at the King farm one evening. At that time (about 1860-70) the farm stretched from the Bay to Plains Rd. west of King Rd. The farmhouse was the back portion of the present 736 King Rd. and the woodlot and barn were north of the house. The young woman was obviously expecting a child very soon and when her husband asked for permission to spend the night in the woodlot, Mr. King readily agreed. The young Indian built a branch shelter. Early next morning when Mr. King went to check on them, all three of them had walked on! What stamina!

The Fisher family employed many Indians. Some have been lifelong friends. A very high honour was paid to the late Paul Fisher when an Indian chief called at Smith’s Funeral Home in his regalia. Murray Fisher tells many of his childhood memories in a lovely book written for his grandchildren. In it Mr. Fisher recalls “I always admired them (Indian boys) for their knowledge of natural things. Not only were they observant, but much of their education came from their elders orally. I remember one boy telling me how to dig out a den of skunks without getting sprayed and they showed me how to catch rabbits with snares.” As a boy, Murray also recalls finding pieces of clay pots and other artifacts from an ancient Indian campsite on the Indian trail now marked approximately by Reimer Phase 1 Building just east of the Holiday Inn on South Service Road.

All the Indians were excellent athletes. At one time Burlington had winning lacrosse teams with the help of the young men.

Any history of Burlington would not be complete without giving proper appreciation to these native people.

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 15 Nov. 1977. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library - Central Branch. Reel 50.