This site is terrific.
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.
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
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
Here’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