Peter Wilmot, 1824 – 1932

Nova Scotia Museum Ethnology Collection MP0610.

Hunter, Craftsman, Chief, Visionary

Over the thousands of years, the Mi’kmaq have lived in what we call Nova Scotia they have had hundreds of chiefs. One of their many leaders was the amazing Peter Wilmot.

His forest expertise was legendary. One story goes like this: One day Peter went to the woods where the moose were yarding to smoke his pipe. Sitting down against a moose that was asleep, Peter lit his pipe. As the story goes, sometime later the moose woke up. "Eh, Pielo" (Oh, Peter—it's you) he said, and then promptly went back to sleep.

As a political leader, Peter Wilmot was first a Chief of Pictou Landing. Then, in the 1870s, he chanced to be in the woods near Truro. Impressed by the resources he saw in what we know today as Millbrook, Wilmot approached the Indian Agent to see if that then forested land in Colchester County might be set aside for the Mi’kmaq in exchange for less attractive land they were living on elsewhere in the Truro area. Wilmot’s proposal was accepted, with an initial 35 acres set aside. That reserve would expand in later years, and the Millbrook First Nation, founded by Chief Peter Wilmot, became one of the most dynamic reserves in Nova Scotia.

Peter Wilmot would live long and well. When photographed on his 108th birthday in 1932, in a spectacularly beaded coat and cap and wearing moccasins he had made, Wilmot said: “I have never taken a doctor’s medicine in my life … I always use my own barks and herbs.”