First Fishers Object Information

Mi’kmaq Camp Painting 

Additional Information: This original watercolour by H.N. Binney, a Halifax customs officer, provides one of the earliest authentic “snapshots” of daily life in a Mi’kmaw community. The scene, a late 18th-century Mi’kmaw encampment, likely at present-day Tufts Cove in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, clearly shows the central role that fishing played in Mi’kmaw life.

The Last Birchbark Canoe 

Additional Information: This image shows the building of a birchbark canoe at Dalhousie, New Brunswick in 1919. The woman is sewing the gunwale with spruce root. Following a decline in canoe construction brought on by resettlement and two world wars, Mi’kmaw people are now reviving the art of traditional canoe making.

Mi’kmaq Chief and European Visitor 

Additional Information: This late 18th-century watercolour, Mi’kmaq Chief and European Visitor, shows signs of trade and friendship between the Mi’kmaq and early British settlers. The copper pot (used here to boil lobster), the blue broadcloth and the wool blanket were all popular trade items.

Interior of Wig-Wam

Additional Information: This 19th-century image shows the incorporation of European trade goods into traditional Mi’kmaq activities.  Look for copper pots, metal tools, a powder horn, a Christian cross, and coloured broadcloth among other things.

Halifax Naval Yard Watercolour

Additional Information: In this 1796 watercolour image, you can see the changing cultural landscape of Nova Scotia. A Mi’kmaw man, woman and child in a birchbark canoe, followed by two birding dogs, pass alongside vessels and buildings at the Halifax Naval Yard. Colonial authorities discouraged traditional Mi’kmaw activities near large settlements like Halifax.

Presentation to Marquis of Lorne… 

Additional Information: Here, a group of Mi’kmaq chiefs is presented to the Marquis of Lorne, Canada’s new Governor-General, at Province House in Halifax in 1878. The European-style uniforms reflect Mi’kmaq efforts to adapt to British culture. In appearance, the Mi’kmaq were equal to the British in treaties and ceremonies but this was not the reality.

Launch of Charlie Joe Dennis

Additional Information: The launch of a new fishing vessel is cause for celebration in any Mi’kmaw community. Here, Charlie Joe Dennis, named for a former chief of Eskasoni First Nation and long-time advocate for Cape Breton Mi’kmaq on natural resource issues, is launched in Eskasoni in August 2012.


Document by Peleg Wiswall regarding the Mi'kmaq families who have settled at Bear River under the guidance of Andrew Meuse. February 12, 1830 
Date: 1830 
Reference no.: Peleg Wiswall Nova Scotia Archives MG 15 Vol. 17 No. 11 

Additional Information: Document written by Judge Peleg Wiswell of Digby, N.S. regarding the Mi’kmaq families who had settled at Bear River under the guidance of Andrew Meuse. Meuse was at one time Chief of the Indians of the Western District and a leader in establishing the experimental settlement at Bear River. In 1821 he successfully petitioned the Nova Scotia House of Assembly against passing of a bill that would prohibit shooting porpoises which at the time had been a staple natural resource of the Mi’kmaq. He argued that harvesting them “would do no harm to the whites”.

Petition of Denney Michael, a Mi'kmaq chief from Guysborough, for relief because of the failure of the mackerel fishery. 
Date: 1851 
Reference no.: Commissioner of Indian Affairs Nova Scotia Archives MG 15 Vol. 4a No. 101 

Additional Information: 1851 petition from Denney Michael (Michael Denney), Mi’kmaq Chief at Crow Harbour, Guysborough Co. to Joseph Howe, Provincial Secretary.  In this petition he asks for relief on behalf of his people due to the failure of the mackerel fishery. Chief Denney offers the services of his son William to collect any money offered and to answer any questions pertaining to the situation of their people.

Petition and letter from Wentworth to Commissioners of Indian Affairs regarding Mi'kmaq families at Cape Sable that are having their "good dispositions discouraged by several white people who claim the lands." requests having Mi'kmaq lands measured and located, so as to prevent tresspassers who interrupt the Mi'kmaq fishing and planting.
Date: 1802

Reference no.: Commissioner of Public Records - Indians series Nova Scotia Archives RG 1 vol. 430 no. 117

Additional Information: Letter written in 1802 by Sir John Wentworth, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia to Michael Wallace, Commissioner of Relief for Indians, regarding Mi’kmaq fishery at Cape Sable, N.S.  Wentworth expresses concern that the Mi’kmaq are being “discouraged” by several white people who are trying to claim the lands. He asks that the interruption of the Mi’kmaq fishing at planting be prevented.