Grand Lake Meadows
 


 

 

Home | Projects | Photo Gallery | Site map | Links | Contact Us | Credits
Home > Who :  People > First Nations
  
Grand Lake Meadows Sunset, courtesy of Keith MacKenzie.

Grand Lake Meadows Sunset, courtesy of Keith MacKenzie.

Family of Moose, Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Keith Mackenzie
Family of Moose, Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Keith Mackenzie.
Aboriginal Tools: scraper and nutcrackers, Queens County Museum Collection
Aboriginal Tools: scraper and nutcrackers, Queens County Museum Collection.
Pottery Sherds, Queens County Museum Collection.
Pottery Sherds, Queens County Museum Collection.
Drawing: Aboriginal Storytelling, 2004, by Cheryl Bogart, Queens County Museum Collection.
Drawing: Aboriginal Storytelling, 2004, by Cheryl Bogart, Queens County Museum Collection.
Quillwork Box, 1825-1850, Queens County Museum Collection.
Quillwork Box, 1825-1850, Queens County Museum Collection.
First Nations

Since the beginning, Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq have lived and worked in the area now known as the Grand Lake Meadows. While possessing distinct languages and cultures, the two nations share a common physical, intellectual, and spiritual bond with the land.

New Brunswick waters, lands and forests provided an abundance of food, materials and medicines. The vast network of waterways and familiar portage routes provided swift communication for much of the year, uniting aboriginal peoples and allowing contact with neighbouring nations on the North American coast. Wolastoqiyik settled close to the river Wolastoq; Mi’kmaq along the tidal zones of the eastern shore of New Brunswick. Grand Lake and its surrounding area created a natural transportation and cultural crossroads.

Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq, from the time of their earliest ancestors, developed a way of life ideally suited to the environment of the Maritime region. They knew their surroundings well and based their knowledge on lifelong observations and information passed down from earlier generations. As expert artisans in woodworking, pottery, canoe building and tool making, skilled technologists produced the durable, practical and reliable products needed to maintain their active lifestyle. They were always able to tap the most plentiful species of fish and game, grains and seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Pottery shards, stone tools and implements recovered from the Grand Lake area evoke an appreciation of day to day life. Clay pots were used for cooking or for storing food and water. Arrows and spearheads, axes and scrapers reveal a sophisticated and adaptable society. Where the items are found suggests the locations of camp or community sites. Tools made from non-local stone indicate a vast trading and communication network.

A strong storytelling tradition provided cultural continuity through the sharing of stories, songs, history, personal experiences and social commentary. Through community elders, stories passed from generation to generation over the course of hundreds of years. The land, humans and animals were equally woven into the stories, encouraging respect for the close connections between people and nature. In addition to teaching positive character, storytelling, combined with demonstrations, was a means of teaching practical skills and preserving them through the generations.

By the 19th century, however, European settlement and changing technologies disrupted the traditional way of life for the aboriginal population of New Brunswick. It became necessary to trade with farmers for food, or seek employment on farms, lumber camps or as hunting and fishing guides. Others turned to the production of traditional decorative pieces such as baskets and quill boxes, which they sold or traded for a dependable source of income. The establishment of permanent aboriginal settlements fundamentally altered the seasonal migration patterns of the people. Language survived, but barely, and only through the efforts of elders and the storytelling tradition which never diminished. Aboriginal words survive in vocabularies relating to geography, flora and fauna: words such as caribou, moose and toboggan and place names such as Jemseg and Wolastook.