July 28, 2014

Distinguished eastern Brethren,

As part of last year’s 25th anniversary celebrations, we published a booklet about our Lodge at included a historical research of our name.

With that in mind, earlier this year a number of lodge officers and I attended a Masonic lecture at Brock University, which was sponsored by Grand Lodge.  One of the topics was the war of 1812 and its connection to Canadian Masonry.

After attending the lecture, I became intrigued by the similarity between native symbolism and the symbolism we display in our Lodges during our ceremonies.

As Chinguacousy is a name derived from the first nations, I decided to conduct further research into our Lodge name, to determine if it has any connection with the early Masons of this nation.  I must admit that I was astonished to discover how many members of the Craft from early Canadian Masonry were involved with the natives at that time.

It has been reported by the founding charter members that our Lodge was named after the original name of the township of Chinguacousy, and that in 1974 this township was assimilated by the city of Brampton, becoming part of the region of Peel.

Historical documents preserved with the region of Peel show that the land encompassed in the township of Chinguacousy, was purchased by the British crown from the native Mississauga nation through a provisional treaty dated October 28, 1818.

A sketch portraying the signing of that treaty can still be admired today in a display at the entrance of the Mississauga Lodge in Port Credit.

Chinguacousy Township opened in 1819 and was probably named in honour of a loyal Chippewa chief who fought at the capture of Fort Michilimackinac from the Americans in the war of 1812. His name was Shinguacose, “the small pine”, and the name was later corrupted to Chinguacousy. The name of the township may also be from an Indian word meaning “the place where young pines grow.”

Sir Peregrine Maitland was the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada at that time and history shows that he was one of the Masons that, on the 24th of September 1822, was granted dispensation to organize St. Andrew Lodge # 1 in the city of York, which is today Toronto.

This new township was ordered to be surveyed in the year 1819 and records have preserved the hardships suffered by those survey crews, when they describe in their notes that: “Mosquitoes are miserably thick”.

It is recorded that the first landowners in the township included settlers from New Brunswick, the United States, and also some United Empire Loyalists, and their children. Loyalists like Charles Haines, who owned a mill at Cheltenham, and James Curry, who had a mill in what is now the village of Norval.

In the year 1821, the population of this township numbered just 412.

In 1837, the population reached an estimated 1921 and, by 1871, the population had exploded to 6129.

The year of 1871 is arguably important for masonry in this area, for it is in this township that we can find written documentation of 16 chairs having been purchased for $9.28 from the Ionic Lodge in the village of Brampton. This is the same Ionic Lodge, number 229, of the registry of Grand Lodge that shares our building today, and where, among early records, we can find names of individuals that are direct descendants of John Scott, first township clerk, and James Curry, first tax collector of the Chinguacousy township.

But who was this Chief Shinguacose? And why would Sir Maitland, a lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, have considered naming a township after an Indian Chief?

Let us start by clarifying that the name Shinguacose is a corruption of the name Shin-wauk-on-e-ka, which means a pinery, a place where young pines grow.

Chief Shinguacouse was the son of a Scottish officer stationed at the Detroit garrison and a Chippewa woman.  He was the father of Shing-wauk, after whom the Church of England school in Sault Ste. Marie is named.

He became prominent when, at the head of about 400 braves, he forced the surrender of Fort Michilimackinac, and the subsequent fall of Fort Holmes on the shores of Lake Superior.

It is also known that he had participated in the battle of Queenstown as an ally of General Brock and Chief Tecumseh, and that he and his braves were stationed at Fort Mississauga near Stoney Creek.  There they took part, with other native forces, in ambushing the advancing American columns, forcing them to retreat towards Niagara on the Lake after the fall of Fort George.

In fact, with respect to this particular battle, his great grandson Fred Pine, who still lives on the Garden River reserve near Sault Ste Marie, told this story to Mr. Don Jackson, Associate Professor at the Algoma University and special adviser to the Shing-wauk residential school.  The story relates how Chief Shinguacose made the journey with his warriors by canoe, paddling and portaging up the Nottowasaga to Orangeville, down the Credit River, and finally hugging the shoreline of Lake Ontario to Niagara where they joined with Tecumseh.

We also have many historical records of him and his braves, fighting tribes of the Sioux Nation all the way from Lake Superior to the Mississippi.

After the war of 1812, Chief Shinguacose took on the role of  peacemaker and diplomat urging his nation to adopt a peaceful co-existence with the Americans and the English.

This was not done out of any newfound loyalty to the Americans; in fact, his allegiance to the British crown remained steadfast throughout his life, even when he felt betrayed by government officials.  Actually, he had recognized that the political landscape was changing and that in order to protect his culture he had to compromise and become inclusive of other cultures.

By the time he had risen to the position of head Chief of the Chippewa nation, British policy had developed a system to deal with the members of the first nation that was designed to have them settle in small communities, and encouraged them to abandon their traditional way of living as hunters in favour of farming.

As proof of his diplomatic ability we can attest that, while Chief Shinguacose was sincerely anxious to have his people learn what the British could teach them, he wasn’t willing to trade and abandon their independence and their traditional way of life.

Instead what he sought from the Canadian and the American agencies was support to build on the skills of the Chippewa nation allowing them to develop businesses based on hunting, fishing and forestry.

He also sought guarantees from both  American and British officials, that access to the natural resources within the territory of the Chippewa would be protected and administered by the Chippewa nation.

By 1820 Chief Shinguacose had chosen Garden River, located just east of Sault Ste. Marie, as his permanent home and remained there despite constant attempts to have him and his band relocated to Manitoulin Island.

In 1832 he engaged the help of a missionary, William McMurray, to meet the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, Sir John Colborne (another member of the Craft) which gave him the authority to protect timber and a fishery near Sault Ste. Marie, and to build and administrate a school for his people.

Records show that at this time Chief Shanguacose increased the traditional teaching of the “wig-wams”, where strong similarities between the native symbolism and ours can be witnessed.

In the year of 1835, he officially converted to the Church of England as did two of his sons, Augustine and Buhk-wujj-en-ene.

In the fall of 1847, the government authorized the sale of a number of mining sites on the northern shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron, and one of those sites did encompass the entire Garden River community.

The following spring with the intervention of Thomas G. Anderson (another Brother initiated in Albany, New York), Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and support from the Canadian press a new treaty was stipulated between the Crown and the Chippewa nation, and the mining licenses were rescinded.

Despite signing this new treaty, Chief Shinguacose wasn’t ready to end his fight to have the rights of his people recognized, but all future attempts were thwarted by a law enacted by the Canadian government in 1853.

This law made it a crime to be involved in the campaign for Aboriginal rights, and tied the hands of those supporting the Shinguacose cause.

In the same year Chief Shinguacose developed gangrene in his back and his health began to fail.

Realizing he didn’t have long to live and that much more needed to be done for his vision to be realized, he passed the challenge to continue his work on to his sons.

Chief Shinguacose died at the Garden River reserve around 1858 but not before he had had all his papers, paintings and written songs burned.

To date, only the medals for bravery awarded to Chief Shinguacose by King George III remain in the hands of the descendents of the sons of the Chief, who to this day still live in the Garden River Chippewa reservation.

In conclusion, I have not been able to confirm with certainty whether Bro. Sir John Peregrine Maitland intended to recognize the hero of Michilimacinac when he named the township “Chinguacousy”, but I was able to find that Chief Shinguacose was a man that devoted the labors of his entire life to our Masonic principles of liberty, brotherhood and equality.

He understood that education was the future, and that the importance of tolerance over prejudice was the way to achieve harmony in life.

When Chief Shinguacose converted to the Church of England, Reverend William McMurray, in his notes, described the deepness of the commitment of this Chief to his native roots and traditions, and his ability to display them while still being open to embrace the future with the conscience of his vision for the betterment of all people using the land.

My research also has not been able to prove if the naming of our Lodge has any direct reference to this Chippewa Chief.

Unfortunately, he ordered all his records burned before he died and his relatives can’t offer any assistance on this topic.

Also, Professor Don Jackson at the University of Algoma doesn’t know if the township of Chinguacousy was a tribute to the Chippewa Chief, but we in this Lodge will continue to work remembering the achievements and the struggles that Chief Shinguacose endured in his life.

We will continue to respect the vision that guided his life, and with passion we will try to emulate his success in bringing forward the universal principles of liberty, brotherhood and equality and, just like him, we will do it with total respect and harmony for our mother earth.

Bro. Gabe Spoletini
Chinguacousy Lodge