IT’S THAT WAY: An irreverent look at THE EXPLORERS




“We have no country if we have no border. We have some bad hombres here and we’re gonna get ’em out.”


“…they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”


Border Patrol, Homeland Security


Man with paddle, “Not until you pass quarantine!!! and a visitor’s visa ONLY!”


Chris Columbus: First we wipe out the locals. Second we wipe out the locals. Third we wipe out the locals. Fourth we wipe out the…


Homeland Security.



Men at left ROFLAO. Man at right: What! You don’t like our baggedy ass shorts?



“I don’t do Fashion. I am Fashion.”


Bling, bling, bling.


Thanks for the outfits. Just perfect for the weather here in Labrador. Have you thought of marketing them on Amazon or E-Bay?



Guests lower left corner, talking among themselves: “I told them they either need to eat more veggies or eat their fish and meat raw.”



The first prescription: scurvy prevention “Just close your eyes and swallow.”


Explorer dying of scurvy: I don’t feel so good. And what was that old Indian trying to tell me about cedar tea?


Never listen to the locals. What do they know!

Department of Highways


Why do they call this country “wilderness”? Did they think these trails from Atlantic to Pacific just appeared as soon as their pinkish pinkies touched our territories?


I think he said it was that way.


It’s definitely that way.


Which way is it?


It’s that way.


“Champlain discovers Georgian Bay.” “Gosh, thanks we never knew it was there!”


It’s that way.


Man in background with hand over mouth, “He’s always dropping that thing. Can’t he just follow the signs on the trail?”


But it’s that way!


Lasalle standing up. Man with paddle on right thinking, “How many times do we have to tell them? Don’t stand up in the canoe!”


Sit the f— down! How many times have we told you!


How many times do we have to tell you! Sit down in the f—— canoe! And by the way, it’s that way!

Nuisance Abatement and Noise Control 

800px-jean_nicoletNoise Induced Hearing Loss: NIHL can also be caused by extremely loud bursts of sound, such as gunshots or explosions, which can rupture the eardrum or damage the bones in the middle ear. This kind of NIHL can be immediate and permanent. Loud noise exposure can also cause tinnitus—a ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears or head.

Emergency Road Side Assistance


Inuit people watched the “explorers” of the Franklin expedition starve and die of scurvy. The Inuit told the British sailors that they must do what they did — eat the blubber and internal organs (heart, liver, kidneys, etc.) of the seals and walruses. The British refused this wise and friendly advice. Later the Inuit told those in search of the lost Franklin expedition that the “explorers” ended up eating each other. Charles Dickens, the famous novelist, said that the Inuit were “lying savages,” whose testimony was “the chatter of a gross handful of uncivilised people,” who killed and ate the sailors themselves.


Franklin Expedition, 1845.


Well, we told them, and told them, and told them.


We said, “Go back that way.”



Sir Alexander Mackenzie: Of course I have a halo. I’m an EXPLORER.


They told me it was that way… and we could have it.



Voyageur Routes on the Brink of War


A New Map of Upper and Lower Canada, 1811, Toronto Public Library


1811 Sault Ste. Marie and area


1811 Portage route from Lake Superior to Rat Portage (now Kenora)


1811 Routes from Rat Portage and Osnaburgh House to Lake Winnipeg


1811 Northwestern Ontario and adjacent Manitoba


1811 Lower Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi


Lower Great Lakes to the Atlantic Seaboard


Lake Superior


Upper Great Lakes, 1811


Lake Ontario, 1811


Lake Huron, 1811


Lake Erie, 1811


1811, Western Territory


James Bay, 1811


French River and Ottawa River Route


1811, “Immense Forests” and “Wilderness”


A New Map of Upper & Lower Canada From the Latest Authorities. By John Cary, Engineer, 1811.

Métis through the Eyes of A Lady: Frances Anne Hopkins

Voyageurs at Dawn 1871 by Frances Anne Hopkins

Voyageurs at Dawn 1871


“Morning Mist” Circa 1866, Royal Ontario Museum


The Explorers’ Camp


Relics of the Primeval Forest


Canoe on Lake Superior


Canoes pasing Caughnawaga, 29 August 1860

Canoes passing Caughnawaga, 29 August 1860


Canadian Habitant in Winter


Canadian Forest


A Green Pool

The Timber Raft. ca. 1868 Hopkins, Frances Ann, 1838-1918. BAC no Mikan – 2838095

The Timber Raft. ca. 1868 Library and Archives Canada

18700000 Frances Anne Hopkins. Encampment of Voyageurs.


Voyageurs resting at the portage ca 1875. Art Gallery of Winnipeg.


Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing A Waterfall, 1869. Library and Archives Canada.


Canoes in a Fog Lake Superior, 1869, Glenbow Museum, Calgary.


The Red River Expedition at Kakabeka Falls, 1877, National Gallery of Canada


Going Up the Rapids, ca. 1891


Lumber Raft

Surviving and Thriving Against all Odds: Metis at Sault Sainte Marie

A collection of articles, drawings, paintings and photos relating to the Metis people at Sault Ste. Marie.

Please remember that these articles usually are quite narrow and sometimes objectionable, but contain a wealth of information.  Joanne




Fishing at Saint Mary’s River, Sault Sainte Marie, 1901


From George Bryce, The Remarkable History of the Hudson’s Bay Company Toronto, 1900.




Halfbreed Lodge Nr Sault Ste Marie, by Henry Crease, British Columbia Archives


Fishing in St. Mary’s River. Collection of Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Archives.



Fishing in Lake Superior, Library and Archives Canada


Hudson’s Bay Post, Sault Ste. Marie, 1863. Painted by William Armstrong, 1911, Toronto Public Library



Sault Ste. Marie


Fishermen at the Soo



G. N. Bartlett, ca. 1908


G. N. Bartlett, ca. 1908




Sault Ste. Marie ca. 1888


Hudson’s Bay Blockhouse, Sault Ste. Marie, G. N. Bartlett, ca. 1908



Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. G. N. Bartlett, ca. 1908


“A Good catch of Fish”, Sault Ste Marie. Ontario, G. N. Bartlett, ca. 1908



Canadian Illustrated News, Sault Ste. Marie, Aug. 3, 1872




Canadian Illustrated news, July 30, 1870


Indian Settlement, Sault Ste. Marie, 1869, Library and Archives Canada



Random Articles and Pictures



Fall of St. Mary’s, Lake Superior, 1821, National Gallery of Canada


Description of Metis at Sault Ste. Marie, 1856

Falls of St. Mary's, Lake Superior, American Side, 1821, National Gallery of Canada (enhanced).jpg



Fishing at the Sault



Half Breed Mail Carriers, Sault, Rockport Weekly Democrat, November 27, 1858

Berdoe Mohawk Mail Carriers

Berdoe Amherst Wilkinson, The Mail Carried Across Lake Huron from Penetanguishene to Sault Ste-Marie. March 1853. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-422 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana Copyright: expired. [Some versions of this say that the mail carriers are “Half-breeds”.]



Sault Ste Marie, American side


The Canadian Courier, Vol. III, No. 26, May 30, 1908 Metis often worked clearing brush for the railroads.


Gaff-rigged ship on river, 1821, National Gallery of Canada



Province of Ontario Highway Map


Globe, June 29, 1858


Globe, June 29, 1858



Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario G.N. Bartlett, ca. 1908 Shooting the Rapids


Half-breed Voyageurs, Globe, June 21, 1855

July 10, 2016 Early Maps

Nicholas de Fer Map 1718

Map 6F G4042.M5 1718 F4 Le Cours du Missisipi ou de St.Louis Fameuse Riviere del Amerique Septentrionale avue Environs de laquelle se trouve le Paris appelle Louisiane…1718 Nicolas de Fer scan of 4×5 film @ 2400 dpi in two parts and stiched together date 1-24-07

I love old maps because they tell such an incredible visual story if you know how to read them.


Government of Canada map. North Shore of Lake Superior, 2016

This 1718 map shows Europeans knew of the Great Lakes at that time. The focus is on the rivers because those where the highways for the coureurs de bois, voyageurs and so-called “explorers” who were mostly using First Nations and Metis guides to take them along well-established routes. This 1688 map is full of details.

Franquelin 1688 reference

Modern maps from the Province of Ontario of the Ottawa River.

Ottawa River map2

2016 Province of Ontario Official Highway Map.

Ottawa River map

2016 Province of Ontario Official Highway Map

Franquelin 1688 2

1688. The Ottawa River Route

Franquelin 1688 3

1688 the Ottawa River Route showing the many portages.

Franquelin 1688 4

French River Route showing Lake Nipissing and again the many portages. Map 6F G4042.M5 1718 F4 Le Cours du Missisipi ou de St.Louis Fameuse Riviere del Amerique Septentrionale avue Environs de laquelle se trouve le Paris appelle Louisiane…1718 Nicolas de Fer scan of 4×5 film @ 2400 dpi in two parts and stiched together date 1-24-07

Sault are map

2016 Province of Ontario Official Highway Map showing North Eastern Ontario

Franquelin 1688 5

1688 Map showing the Bruce Peninsula, Lake Simcoe (L. Taranto), Portage roures into Balsam Lake.

Sault are map

2016 Province of Ontario Official Highway Map.

Franquelin 1688 6

Map 6F G4042.M5 1718 F4 Le Cours du Missisipi ou de St.Louis Fameuse Riviere del Amerique Septentrionale avue Environs de laquelle se trouve le Paris appelle Louisiane…1718 Nicolas de Fer scan of 4×5 film @ 2400 dpi in two parts and stiched together date 1-24-07

Southwestern Ontario map


Franquelin 1688 7

1688 Map showing the portage route from Hamilton to the Grand River and Portage routes on the Niagara River.


Franquelin 1688 8

The Bruce Peninsula and Toronto area. Only the major portage routes and Haudenosaunee villages are shown. There were many more portage routes and trails, not necessarily shared information with the European newcomers.

Southwestern Ontario map2

Franquelin 1688 9

1688, Lake Ontario. Note the portage routes through Five Nations homelands south of Lake Ontario.


2016 Province of Ontario Official Highway Map.

GTA smaller

2016 Province of Ontario Official Highway Map.

Franquelin 1688 10

The Great Lakes: The Big Picture. Map 6F G4042.M5 1718 F4 Le Cours du Missisipi ou de St.Louis Fameuse Riviere del Amerique Septentrionale avue Environs de laquelle se trouve le Paris appelle Louisiane…1718 Nicolas de Fer scan of 4×5 film @ 2400 dpi in two parts and stiched together date 1-24-07

Franquelin 1688 11

1688, Lake Superior and the route westward. Map 6F G4042.M5 1718 F4 Le Cours du Missisipi ou de St.Louis Fameuse Riviere del Amerique Septentrionale avue Environs de laquelle se trouve le Paris appelle Louisiane…1718 Nicolas de Fer scan of 4×5 film @ 2400 dpi in two parts and stiched together date 1-24-07

Franquelin 1688 Cape Breton

God’s Country also known as “Down Home” or “Cape Breton. Niganiche, now called Ingonish, is where my line of Doucettes is from. Because people travelled by canoe and ships the size of the waterbodies is exagerrated. The interior of the Cape Breton Highlands was virtually unknown to Europeans, but familiar hunting territory with many trails known to the Mi’kmaq and to the people of Ingonish.

Great Lakes detail from map by John Hinton, 1755, U.S. Library of Congress 2

Close-up. Map 6F G4042.M5 1718 F4 Le Cours du Missisipi ou de St.Louis Fameuse Riviere del Amerique Septentrionale avue Environs de laquelle se trouve le Paris appelle Louisiane…1718 Nicolas de Fer scan of 4×5 film @ 2400 dpi in two parts and stiched together date 1-24-07

Great Lakes detail from map by John Hinton, 1755, U.S. Library of Congress

1718 The rivers are mapped in great detail but the actual shape of interior is way off. The Forts are marked. As well as being military posts they were trading posts. 

Mitchell Reference 1755

The  Messesagues are the Mississauga. Since this was based on a much earlier French map the Northern Iroquois are shown as occupying most of Southern Ontario, but by this time the People of the Three Fires (Odawa, Mississauga and Pottawatomie) had defeated the Five Nations in serious of ferocious engagements. These Anishnaabe people pushed the Haudensaunee out of Ontario. Major battles were fought at Rama on Lake Couchiching and at the mouth of the Saugeen, as well as other places. The people of the Three Fires then moved into Southern Ontario.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario or Catarakui. The placing of Tegaogon (Teiagon) is not accurate. Teiagon was at Baby Point, just north of Bloor Street at the top of the east bank of the Humber River, not far from Fort Toronto. The linked lakes that now make up the Trent Canal syste are exagerrated in size, but the connections were very important. Note the portage trail between Cootes Paradise at Hamilton and the Urse or Bear River, now the Grand River and the Haudensaunee town of Quinatoua. Note also the Mohawk Trail  which connected with another trail all the way from Niagara to the Gulf of Mexico. So much for “untracked forests”! 


Mitchell 1755 French River route

The French River Route. 


Mitchell 1755 Great Lakes drainage

The Upper Grat Lakes. The Messasagues were anything but “united” with the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois. They in fact were at war and traditional enemies at that time.

Mitchell 1755 Lake Erie

Lake Erie, showing the Villages of the Mississaugas at Sarnia and the Village of the Ottawas, Wendats (Hurons), Potawatomies, as well as portage routes.

Mitchell 1755 Lake Huron

Lake Huron. 

Mitchell 1755 Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan.

Mitchell 1755 Lake Superior

Lake Superior. 

Mitchell Great Lakes 1755

Once again, the big picture.

Sanson 1650 1

The Riviere des Prairies is the Ottawa River. 

Sanson 1650 2

Lake Superior is an unknown and while James Bay is mapped in exagerrated detail, almost nothing was known about the Interior by the map makers.

Sanson 1650 3

Lake Erie and the headwaters of the Mississipi River, one trading system long before Europeans arrived.

Sanson 1650 Great Lakes

The lower Great Lakes.

Sanson 1650 Lake Superior

The Upper Great Lakes


The Great Lakes.

Sanson 16792

The junction of Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron.

Sanson 16795

The Lower Great Lakes.


Early Pictures from Ingonish

19180300 The Canadian magazine Vol. 50, no. 5 (Mar. 1918) Gleaners Ingonish

The Canadian Magazine Vol. 50, no. 5 (Mar. 1918) Gleaners Ingonish

Early Pictures from Ingonish. Although these appeared in 1918 in a magazine, they are likely much older. They are not identified but they are surely my relatives as we were related to everyone there. All these pictures are by Edith S. Watson, an amazing photographer from Connecticut. Ms. Watson and her life partner, Victoria Hayward, travelled across Canada, taking photos of ordinary people…even in some fairly remote areas as Ingonish certainly was when these photos were taken.

19180300 The Canadian magazine Vol. 50, no. 5 (Mar. 1918) Hoeing Cabbages Ingonish

The Canadian Magazine Vol. 50, no. 5 (Mar. 1918) Hoeing Cabbages

Jane Brewer

My greatgrandmother Jane Brewer


The Canadian Magazine Vol. 50, no. 5 (Mar. 1918) Hoeing Potatoes Ingonish


19180300 Ingonish

The Canadian Magazine Vol. 50, no. 5 (Mar. 1918) Knitting

For more info about Edith Watson go to:


19230204GL Nova Scotia

Location not known, Globe, Feb. 4, 1923

Ingonish Cape Breton no date

Ingonish, Cape Breton, no date, photographer unknown.

Ingonish Ferry Cape Breton no date

Ingonish Ferry Cape Breton, no date, photographer unknown

Ingonish Ferry no date2

Ingonish Ferry Cape Breton, no date, photographer unknown

Ingonish Ferry no date

Ingonish Ferry Cape Breton, no date, photographer unknown

Road over Cape Smoky no date

Road over Cape Smoky, no date, photographer unknown

19590620 Lewiston Evening Journal Ingonish Aerial View

Lewiston Evening Journal, June 20, 1959 Ingonish Aerial View

Ingonish Harbour 1979a

Ingonish Harbour, 1979 Photographer Unknown

Dominion Police - Allan Marryatt

Photograph of my grandfather John Richard Doucette, upper left


My grandfather Thomas Leo Doucette and grandmother Lucy Agnes Devenish and the family with cat, 1930s

Ingonish Beach

Ingonish Beach, late 1940s, photographer unknown

James Doucette AND mARY rOBINSON

James Doucette, my great uncle, and Mary Robinson


Ingonish: A puzzle

Ingonish now and then

OK, folks in Cape Breton and everywhere else, what do you think?

The top picture was painted in 1801 showing a Mi’kmaq camp by a river flowing into the sea. The bottom picture was taken on the east side of the Clyburn looking up the Clyburn towards Franey. It was taken from the place where local tradition (Uncle Albert Doyle and my father, for example) said the Mi’kmaq camped within living memory. The salmon fishing was so good there before the highway and the cod fishery was rich. Archaeologists have found artefacts there too. So do you think it could be the same spot?
Here’s an even darker version, digital altered by me to remove some of the fading. I am a trained water colourist and know how fugitive some pigments and how quickly some water colour paint fades.
Digitally altered. Is that Franey we see in the background at top?

Digitally altered. Is that Franey we see in the background at top?

And here is a closer and darker look at the 1801 painting:



Here’s some background:

How old is First Nation occupation of Ingonish?
Archaeologists have uncovered native activity at Ingonish back to the Paleo-Indian period. This large site was occupied by Paleo-Indian and Early Archaic Indian people. Artifacts found there date back 7,000 to 9,000 years ago.
What does “Ingonish” mean?
The site is named “Geganisg” or sometimes transcribed as “Kegannagwetch” a Mi’kmaw word meaning ‘remarkable place’ or so some sources say. Samuel de Champlain called it “Niganis”. It became “Niganiche” and eventually “Ingonish”. Contemporary Mi’kmaq people say it means “it flows out” and that’s a good description of the Clyburn Brook. ncidentally, if there’s a disagreement about the meaning of a First Nations place name like Canada, Ontario, Toronto, Ingonish…my gut always says go with the people who actually speak the language today. It’s a living culture with a long, long memory. So if the Mi’kmaq of Cape Breton say “Ingonish” means “it flow out”, that is what I’m going to go with.
Why was Ingonish important to the First Nations?
Ingonish Island, as my father, Thomas Vincent Doucette, told me, was an important place because it had quarries for stone to make arrow and spearheads that were traded widely. Archaeologists have confirmed this.
It is important to remember that this land was not empty, just waiting for the Europeans to come and fill it up with fast food restaurants, highways and the like. It has been fully occupied since the last glacier melted and maybe long before that. Recovering the historic uses of places is important now for treaty rights, but also for cultural reasons that go far beyond treaties. The Mi’kmaq encamped near the mouth of the Clyburn Brook and Ingonish River and fished for salmon and cod here since the “beginning of time”.
By and large my Mi’kmaq ancestors did not have to slave to scratch a meal out of Mother Earth like European peasants had to do. The sea was rich with fish, seals, shellfish, sea vegetables and life was not as hard as some may think. Ingonish was particularly valued for its cod fishery. There was leisure time to develop a rich culture: music, pictographs, dance and stories. Chiefs called “sagamows” helped settled disputes, especially about hunting territories, but decisions were made by consensus. There were no kings or nobles.

Here’s a video from the Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre…/ancestors-l…/ingonish-island/


This site is terrific.…/ancestors-l…/ingonish-island/


Apparently the codfish used to come inshore earlier there than anywhere else in Cape Breton which is why Ingonish was so valuable as a fishing ground to the Mi’kmaq, Basque, Portuguese and French, not to mention the Irish and others who worked the fishery.


James Albert Doyle

Albert Doyle

Tom Doucette from Ronald Caplan, Stories from the Clyburn Valley, Cape Breton’s Magazine, Issue 49, Aug. 1, 1988

Tom Doucette from Ronald Caplan, Stories from the Clyburn Valley, Cape Breton’s Magazine, Issue 49, Aug. 1, 1988



Leona Doucette from Ronald Caplan, Stories from the Clyburn Valley, Cape Breton’s Magazine, Issue 49, Aug. 1, 1988

Leona Doucette from Ronald Caplan, Stories from the Clyburn Valley, Cape Breton’s Magazine, Issue 49, Aug. 1, 1988

These three of my close relatives, all now sadly departed this life, all told the same stories of Ingonish Island and the Mi’kmaq encampment at the both of the Clyburn. To hear Tom and Leona Doucette’s tell their own story of life up the Clyburn Valley go to Ronald Caplan’s, “Stories from the Clyburn Valley”, Cape Breton’s Magazine, Issue 49, Aug. 1, 1988 at


Franey is still very important to my family, a special place. I’ve never been to the top, not with my rotten knees, but I’ve seen the view up the Clyburn. My Dad found stone points on Ingonish Island, but he left them where they were. A copper harpoon head (19th century) I gave one of our Kanne cousins.

I have copied a article from Cape Breton Magazine, 1975, available on line at


Arch1Arch2Here’s a quote from one of those early European visitors:


It has been forty-five or fifty years since certain gentlemen of Viana associated themselves together, and according to what information they had of terra nova de Baccalaos they determined to go settle some part of it…. And having lost their vessels there, we have no more news of them, except through the Biscayans, who are in the habit of going to that coast for the purpose of procuring and exporting many things that are to be found there. These men give information that they had asked them to tell us at home how they were situated there, and that they desired priests to be sent to them–that the natives were mild, and the country fertile and good…. And this is in Cape Breton, at the commencement of the coast which runs to the north.

–Francesco d Souza Tradato das Ilhas Novas 1570


from Mark Reynolds, “Land of the King of Portugal: before the English, before the French, the Portuguese laid claim to the land that became Canada” The Beaver: Exploring Canada’s History. 82.6 (Dec. 2002): p13.


Here’s an article from the Cape Breton Post:


Below here is an academic point of view.


An abstract from Helen Keenlyside, “The Stone Diary: A Progress Report on Some Recent Survey Work in Cape Breton” in The Canadian Journal of Archaeology. Conference Paper. “Ottawa (2002)


This account begins with a non-diagnostic artifact excavated from the multicomponent L’Anse à Flamme site in southern Newfoundland. Recently, the source material for this piece was tentatively identified as Ingonish rhyolite, a distinctive stone quarried by precontact toolmakers at Ingonish Island, Cape Breton since the Archaic period. A wide geographic distribution is suggested for Ingonish rhyolite which has been identified in archaeological sites in the Maritime Provinces, the Magdalen Islands and possibly Newfoundland. The objectives of this research were to establish if the L’Anse à Flamme artifact was Ingonish rhyolite, and if so, to consider the interpretive implications of its appearance in Newfoundland. Traditional archaeological convention depicts Newfoundland as a cultural isolate, severed from the rest of Atlantic Canada by the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But the archaeological record challenges such convention. Take for instance the impressive distribution of Ramah chert, the high quality tool making stone found in sites from northern Labrador, to the Magdalen Islands, to southern New England. Or Dr. Priscilla Renouf’s recent find of a precontact ceramic assemblage in Newfoundland, the Atlantic Province traditionally believed to be a ceramic-free zone. This image based presentation reports the results of two field projects aimed to explore the distribution of Ingonish rhyolite in Atlantic Canada and its implications for future archaeological interpretation.


The family oral history is that we descended from the Mi’kmaq who camped here and the soldiers based on the fort on Ingonish Island (see “Up the Humber to the West” on this website for more information about this).

I am interested in any feedback you may have.

Joanne, your Ontario cousin, the History Mole


Welcome. Here you will find my father’s story of growing up in Cape Breton and serving overseas in World War II. It is dramatic, down-to-earth and quintessentially “down home”. Also, I have posted another digital book, “Up the Humber To The West”, a story of my Doucette family’s past and our link to the voyageurs. I joke that it should be called, “How the Doucettes discovered Canada”, but Canada didn’t need discovering. From time immemorial it was the home of Canada’s First Nations and never lost, never needing “discovery”.