Mississauga Portraits: Ojibwe Voices from Nineteenth-Century Canada

Mississauga Portraits: Ojibwe Voices from Nineteenth-Century Canada

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By Donald B. Smith
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
496 Pages 53 Images
ISBN 9780802094278
Published Jun 2013
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ISBN 9780802091628
Published Jun 2013
Online discount: 25%
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442666696
Published Jun 2013
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The word “Mississauga” is the name British Canadian settlers used for the Ojibwe on the north of Lake Ontario – now the most urbanized region in what is now Canada. The Ojibwe of this area in the early and mid-nineteenth century lived through a time of considerable threat to the survival of the First Nations, as they lost much of their autonomy, and almost all of their traditional territory.

Donald B. Smith’s Mississauga Portraits recreates the lives of eight Ojibwe who lived during this period – all of whom are historically important and interesting figures, and seven of whom have never before received full biographical treatment. Each portrait is based on research drawn from an extensive collection of writings and recorded speeches by southern Ontario Ojibwe themselves, along with secondary sources. These documents – uncovered over the 40 years that Smith has spent researching and writing about the Ojibwe – represent the richest source of personal First Nations writing in Canada from the mid-nineteenth century.

Mississauga Portraits is a sequel to Smith’s immensely popular Sacred Feathers, which provided a detailed biography of Mississauga chief and Methodist minister Peter Jones (1802–1856). The first chapter in Mississauga Portraits on Jones tightly links the two books, which together give readers a vivid composite picture of life in mid-nineteenth-century Aboriginal Canada.

Donald B. Smith is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Calgary.

Maps and Illustrations


1. Peter Jones (1802-1856) and Canada West, Spring 1856

2. Credit Head Chief: Joseph Sawyer or The Sloping Sky (about 1784-1863)

3. Upright Woman: Catharine Sunegoo or Nahnebahnwequay, “Nahnee” (1824-1865)

4. The Outsider: Peter Jacobs or Pahtahsega (about 1810-1890)

5. International Entrepreneur: Maungwudaus or George Henry (about 1805-after 1877)

6. Literary Celebrity: George Copway or Kahgegagahbowh (1818-1869)

7. Warrior Preacher: John Sunday or Shawundais (about 1796-1875)

8. A Missionary Family: Henry Steinhauer or Shahwahnegezhik (about 1817-1884), and sons Egerton Ryerson Steinhauer (1858-1932), and Robert Steinhauer (1861-1941)

Conclusion and Epilogue





Mississauga Portraits is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Through a detailed examination of individual lives, Donald B. Smith is able to address the big questions of Aboriginal treaty and land rights, government relations, and cultural encounter.  This book sheds considerable light on a complex and important period in Canadian history.  Each biography is a little gem, illustrating a variety of responses by quite different individuals to the challenges of colonization and historical change.”

Kerry Abel, Department of History, Carleton University

Mississauga Portraits proves that Donald B. Smith is not only one of Canada’s most respected contemporary historians but someone who has dedicated his long career to bringing the Aboriginal voice to the forefront of Canadian history. This book breaks stereotypes and shows that Aboriginal people have long been some of Canada’s most eloquent speakers and complex personalities.”

Armand Garnet Ruffo, Department of English Language and Literature, Carleton University

“Donald B. Smith stitches together the compelling stories of eight Mississauga individuals who dealt with loss, sacrifice, and achievement while struggling with divided loyalties of love, spirituality, politics, and community. Smith’s historical analysis should be read by anyone interested in understanding contemporary land claim settlements.”

Dr. Dean M. Jacobs, Walpole Island Heritage Centre

“I have been eagerly awaiting Mississauga Portraits. This timely and valuable book demonstrates longstanding resistance to injustice which is reflective of modern day issues facing First Nations people, and shines a spotlight on Anishinaabe chiefs, missionaries, women, and entrepreneurs who deserve to be known by every Anishinaabe and every Canadian.” 

Alan Corbiere, Anishinaabe Historian, M’Chigeeng First Nation

‘Anyone with an interest in First Nations history will find this book enlightening. Smith has done a fine job of distilling material gleaned from forty years of research into primary documents recovered from various sources… As a bonus this book is well illustrated with historical photographs sprinkled throughout.’

Nelle Oosterom, Canada's History Magazine, June-July 2014

‘Mississauga Portraits is an important contribution and should be considered essential reading.’

Christopher Wright, Ontario History vol 106:01:2014

‘Smith offers both academic and general readers a vivid sense of another time and its possibilities. Mississauga Portraits is a remarkable feat of scholarship by the foremost historian of the Mississaugas and an impressive testament to Indigenous agency in all of its variety.’

Victoria Freeman, Canadian Historical Review vol 96:03:2015

‘Smith’s coverage is rich and vivid, and demonstrates the dynamism and intellectual vigour of the wider Mississauga population.’

David Stirrup, British Journal of Canadian Studies, vol 28:01:2015

‘Smith offers an engaging, nuanced mosaic of the larger Ojibwe story… He returns Ojibwe voices from the margins to the centre of their own story, without losing sight of the larger context.’

Zach Isenhower, Journal of Early Republic vol 35:01:201

Mississauga Portraits is a rich history of Ojibwe peoples north of Lake Ontario…. Smith’s work demands that ethno historians grapple with the ambiguities of Anishinabek voices, and his biographical sketches set a high standard for scholars of indigenous pasts.’

Michelle Cassidy, Ethnohistory Summer 2014

Mississauga Portraits is a remarkable feat of scholarship by the foremost historian of the Mississaugas and an impressive testament to indigenous agency in all its variety.’

Victoria Freeman, Canadian Historical Review vol 96:03:2015

Floyd S. Chalmers Award awarded by Champlain Society (Canada) - Winner in 2014
Donald Grant Creighton Award awarded by Ontario Historical Society (Canada) - Winner in 2014