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I Heard a Shot Fired
By John McKay, Chatham Daily Planet, April 22, 1901


When I bought my farm on the Prince Albert Road in the early 1850s, the whole of that portion of Kent County was primeval forest with the exception of along the Thames River.

Indians were plentiful. There was a camp near my place and I never knew any of them to steal anything from me. The Redman is very fond of pork and my pigs were running all around their camp, but they never touched one. The children of the woods would be away all summer and they would return in the fall and build their tepees. The women would come to the house and ask for straw to lay on the floor till the ground got dry. Securing what they wanted, they would always come to the house and show how much straw they had taken.

If you once win the confidence of the Indians they will do anything for you, even fight for you, and they are your friends forever.

Captain Keating, who lived up the river, had an Indian wife. The captain and another man, while paddling down a rapid in the north country, had an upset. An Indian girl saw the canoe overturn and, swimming out, rescued the Captain. Captain Keating married the Indian girl who had saved his life.

The Indians from Lake Superior region used to come down to visit the Captain and his wife, and a fine looking lot they were. My farm lay on the road traversed by the Indians when coming from the north land and they used often to stop overnight at my farm. On these visits to Captain Keating the Indians used to hold war dances and have a generally good time.

In my intercourse with the Indians I made a discovery which I have since learned has been made by others. Any person who can talk Gaelic can read the Indian language and pronounce the words correctly although he doesn’t know or understand a word of what he is reading. I learned this by reading to the Indians myself. There surely must be some connection between the two languages and I wonder if it will ever be discovered.

One day I heard a shot fired in my woods and going back, I found an Indian cooking a piece of venison over a fire and spit. The half-skinned carcass of a deer lay near, from which the roast had been cut. The Indian told me that he had wounded the deer on the previous morning and had followed the animal till he had killed it.

The Indian had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours, but soon satisfied his appetite with the deer he had killed.


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