The Mi’kmaq (formerly known as Mic Mac) in the Fairview Area

Submitted by Devonna Edwards

The Mi’kmaq (formerly known as Mic Mac) in the Fairview Area. First Nation people, the Mi’kmaq, were the first to occupy the province of Nova Scotia.

Charlie Phillips

In the 1950s a Mi’kmaq by the name of Charlie Phillips lived with his wife and children in a small dwelling surrounded by trees. His home was located near where the Centennial Arena stands today on Vimy Avenue in Fairview.

Paul Crawford, in his blog “Fairview Forgotten”, said that he remembers Charlie making bows and arrows, and working as a gardener for Ravenswood which was an estate on the former Dutch Village Road. Today the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union building on Joseph Howe Drive stands on the site of Ravenswood. Paul went to Fairview School with Charlie’s son Freddy, known back then as Freddy the Indian.

William Irving remembered Charlie, he played with his son Freddy in the early 1950s and he recalled Freddy had a sister whose name was Ida. William said that their mother weaved baskets and sold them in the area.

John (Jack Butler) also recalled Charlie and his family living on the edge of the Quarry, somewhere below the Centennial Arena, beyond the Air Raid Patrol (A.R.P.) Dam. John said Charlie sold baskets on the Bedford Highway near the Biggest Little Service Station (White Rose) owned by Bob Cole. After a few years, he and his family moved on.

When I was a young girl, my brother Nonnie O’Brien took me to what was then, ‘back in the woods’ to visit him. I remember Charlie sitting on his doorstep making baskets. Baskets were very popular years ago for carrying food supplies and other items, as there were no bags available at the stores to carry supplies in.

Young Mi’kmaq Students

In bygone years children, including Mi’kmaq children from the area went to Maryville School. Maryville School was located on the corner of Dutch Village Road (today known as Joseph Howe Drive) and Mumford Road. The school, taught by the Sisters of charity operated from 1873 to 1908, when the students were transferred to the new Oxford Street School.

Chief Jerry Lonecloud

In 1922 Chief Lonecloud lived on Dutch Village Road (Joseph Howe Drive) in an old building which was the former Church of St. John the Baptist and Maryville School. Ann (Veinotte) Tattrie remembered him living there. Ann’s father George owned G.W. Veinotte Store located on the corner of Dutch Village Road and Frederick Avenue in Fairview. Ann described Lonecloud as a man who wore long loose gowns and she also recalled that the children from the area were afraid of him. She never saw him with his wife or children.

Jerry Lonecloud was an entertainer, ethnographer (described the culture of the Mi’kmaq) and the Chief Medicine man of the Mi’kmaq people of Nova Scotia. He wrote the first Mi’kmaq memoir.

Chief Lonecloud was known to have several names: Jeremiah or Germain Bartlett Alexis, Jeremiah Bartlett, Haselmah Lak, Jerry Luxcey, and Doctor Lonecloud. Chief Lonecloud was born in Maine, United States in 1854 to parents Abram Bartlett Alexis of Shelburne County, NS and Mary Ann Toma (Thomas) of St. Croix, NS. He was given the name Lonecloud because on the day he was born there was only one lone cloud in the sky.

Chief Lonecloud married seventeen year old Elizabeth Paul and they had four daughters and two sons. Lonecloud’s father Abram, joined the Union Army when the Civil War began. Abram was one of the men who captured John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln on April 26, 1865. Company H. of the 16 New York Cavalry shot and killed Booth, who was hiding in a barn in Virginia. After the capture of Booth, Abram went to claim his share of the $100,000 reward and was never heard from again. He was presumed to have been murdered. Shortly after Lonecloud’s mother died in Vermont, Lonecloud took his sister and two younger brothers home to Nova Scotia.

At one time Lonecloud worked with the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” in the United States. He also travelled around the Maritimes selling his medicine and putting on shows. He lived in several areas of Nova Scotia including Tufts Cove in Dartmouth.

Article taken from the book, “Amazing Stories- The Halifax Explosion Heroes and Survivors” by Joyce Glasner. When the Halifax Explosion Dec. 6, 1917 happened, Jerry Lonecloud had been in Kentville on business when he got word of the disaster. Concerned about his family and community, he rushed to the train station to catch the first train home. When the train from Wolfville stopped at Windsor Junction to take on more supplies that morning, Jerry tried to hide his impatience. He had a terrible feeling of foreboding about what lay ahead and was anxious to get home. When Lonecloud saw the conductor making his way along the aisle, he stopped the man and asked how long it would be before they got moving, “not sure”, the conductor muttered before hurrying off. As the time dragged on and the train showed no sign of getting underway, Lonecloud grew frantic. Finally unable to sit still any longer, he decided to disembark and walk the rest of the way home.

After he’d walked for hours, Jerry Lonecloud finally arrived back at Turtle Grove (Tufts Cove on the Dartmouth shore) at dusk. As he approached the Mi’kmaq settlement, his worst fears were confirmed. Turtle Grove had taken the full force of the blast. Nine of the twenty-one residents of Turtle Grove died in the explosion, the rest were seriously wounded. Among those killed were Jerry Lonecloud’s daughters, Rosie and Hannah. The loss of his two beloved daughters, as well as his home and half the community was a devastating blow for the Mi’kmaq elder.

Chief Lonecloud was a member of the Millbrook Mi’kmaq band, which summered in the Cole Harbour area, traveling along the Shubenacadie River and through the present day Dartmouth Lakes. He was a familiar sight to the Cole Harbour residents in bygone years, where he would be seen fishing for salmon and gathering sweet grass, which he used to make coiled baskets for sale in the Halifax Market. Jerry Lonecloud Trail is named after him and is located in the Cole Harbour-Lawrencetown Coastal Heritage Park on Bissett Road in Cole Harbour.

Lone Cloud Island located in Miller Lake, Fall River is also named after him. Lone Cloud Island is a seven acre Island that is only accessible by boat. Boy Scouts Canada built a summer camp there in 1926 and the camp is still popular today. Chief Lonecloud died on April 16, 1930 at the age of 75. He is buried in the Dartmouth Public Cemetery.

For more information on Chief Lonecloud read the book by Ruth Holmes Whitehead called “Tracking Doctor Lonecloud.”

Lonecloud told stories of his recollection, tales and customs of his people to Clara Dennis (photographer and writer from NS) who recorded his life story from 1923 to 1929, thus creating the earliest known Mi’kmaq autobiography.

On March 15, 1922 Gerry Lonecloud told a story which was related to him by a very old Indian, about 89 years old at the time and who then lived in Springhill, Nova Scotia. Titled, “At the Place of Measles” – “Ale-sod-a-wav-ga-deek” (Mi’kmaq name)
The old Mi’kmaq told Lonecloud, this was the place where the Mi’kmaq, who were camped there, caught “Measles” or some fatal disease, from the French. The Indians died like flies and were buried on the right hand side of the brook, a short distance below a small pond or stream and in back of the site of Forrest Tannery at Fairview, Bedford Basin, near Halifax. Burial mounds could be seen there for years after. They did not camp in that spot again. He said it was not the same place where the French were buried.

The Mi’kmaq elder was describing the events when Duc d’Anville’s ships sailed into the Bedford Basin in 1746 and his men became sick from scurvy, typhus and typhoid. Hospital tents were set up for the sick at the bottom of French Landing, today known as Bayview Road.

The place the Mi’kmaq described was near the Old Tannery in Fairview, and when it ceased to exist, a Rock Quarry occupied the site. A car dealership now stands there today on the Bedford Highway.