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  • Writer's pictureArt Duval

Tiny Island, or Tiny Point?

I was talking to my Mother the other day and I was telling her the tale of Tiny Island I came across at the archives. Tiny island is a small point of land jutting out from the 13th concession of Tiny. Sometimes when the water is high, it is a island, but on the most part it's attached to the main land. The french would call it a Presque'isle, or almost island.

This status of not quite an island made it be forgotten, the indian Department would be able to sell it if t was an island. And Lands and forests would sell it if it was a point. As it was a fishing company out of Collingwood had commandeered it as a fishing station, but never purchased it. Alexandre Brunelle seen it and wanted to buy it so he petitioned the Government for it. That story is told here.

So in the time of the Wendat, the Wendat and Algonquin allies lived symbiotically. The Wendat were great gardeners, planting the three sister in large tracts and tending the crop throughout the summer.

The Algonquin, later called the Mississauga, would do the hunting. This symbiosis would continue, sometimes the Algonquin would help with the crops, and the Wendat went on hunting expeditions.

This worked for generations and throughout a large part of Northeastern, North America. Further, the hostilities with the Mohawk moved the Wendat gradually to Huronia, over time and they settled into land along the Penetanguishene Peninsula and all through the area. Until the Wendat were forced to flee Huronia, some joining the Mississauga, others ending up in Detroit and Montreal. Those who remained with the Mississauga retained the ability to grow crops, but the places they used to inhabit were no longer safe. Marauding Mohawk continued to search for villages to harass.

So like many things, the Mississauga turned to nature to solve their problems. Unable to tend their crops, the losses to birds and raccoons became a problem, so the people realized they needed a safe place.

They realized the islands could be rid of the "coons" at least and so they began to plant crops on the islands, in the old areas of the Wendat, coming periodically to sow and harvest their crops.

This practice was remembered when it came time to sign treaties. The land was expendable, but the islands, still in use, were not include in the sale. This allowed the practice of crop planting to continue. The treaty specifies all islands south of Moose Deer Point remain with the Mississaugas, now managed by the Indian Department.

In the case of Tiny Island however, this became a bone of contention. When John Goessman, the official surveyor of Tiny passed the area, it (Tiny Island) was a peninsula.

So Tiny "Island" was actually Tiny Peninsula, or Presque 'isle as the french would know it and not covered in the treaties. However, because it was set aside as an island, nobody purchased it either, so nobody officially owned it.

(Maps of Tiny island, the map included in the file of Mr Brunelle, Google Map showing how it is today and Goessman's survey map.)

So in 1912, Mr Alexandre Brunelle (spelled Brunette in the letter) asked his MP, Mr Bennett, to enquire as to the owner of said property. The island then described as about two acres in size, opposite Christian Island and adjacent to Concession 13, Tiny Township. Seems not great care was taken in this letter, as the name is wrong and so is the location, but anyway...

The Indian agent Mr Picotte was contacted, and he stated that it was set aside as an island, despite the fact it is not really an island. He then received a telegraph from the lands department, to see what value the island had. Ironically leaving anyone of the native population out of it, but that is another story.

Mr Picotte set a price of 15 dollars, pretty good price for an island which wasn't an island, that he didn't know they owned. JD Maclean, assistant deputy secretary of the lands and forest Department would then send this letter to Aubrey White, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Forests.

So not only do they not know if it is an island, they are not sure where it is, stating it is off Concession12, 13 and now 15th Concession. Of course one of the issues is that off the west coast of Tiny there are sandbars which raise islands from time to time.

Acting on this, Mr Brunelle purchases the lot expecting the island to also be included. We do not know the price set, but he also sells the portion of the mainland to the Addison Brothers, all but the island, which he now believes he owns.

So it's now 1914, and Mr Brunelle seems to have opened a can of worms, although the government is saying that Tiny island belongs to lot 20 and is not an island at all but a point, Captain Bowie disagrees, and says he has been using the island, or point for some time as a fishing station. For Mr Brunelle it should have ended here with him paying the $15, but alas, it would drag on and cost him far more.

He also states that this island would come under the Treaty claiming that all islands south of Moose Deer point belongs to them. A letter from JD MacLean mentioned above again denies the existence of this island, saying it is a point and it does not fall under their department. So if this is the case, Mr. Brunelle has purchased it from the Corriveau's and it should be his.

early arial photography of Tiny Island

AA Thompson files many affidavits showing that Mr. Brunelle and family purchased it from Mr. Coriveau. Mr Brunelle sold all but the island/point to the Addison Brothers. It was then requested that Mr. Picotte inspect the island to see if Captain Bowie had made the improvements he claims. Evidently he had, as it is reported the fishing dock and outbuildings did exist on the island/point.

And here is where it gets weird and shows some indian department failures. Earlier he had appraised the island at about $15 but now list various building that would amount to much more. At this point the issue should be between Mr Brunelle and Captain Bowie, but really the point should be mute. Captain Bowie did not ever purchase the land, but merely put improvements on it, so really doesn't have a claim.

Mr Picotte, under the direction of the Indian Department makes a inspection f the property and comes up with the following list.

13 foot by 13 foot building (House?),

13 by 14 foot ice house and

12 by 18 foot shed.

90 foot dock

Which he assesses as $20 each for the first two and $15 for the shed. And adds that there is a 90 foot dock worth about $155. Upping the value by quite a bit. So does this negate the sale and make it the possession of the Dominion fishing Company under Captain Bowie, as he has squatted on the island/point? It is claimed that a William Venatty of the Guilpin Fishing Company built the wharfs and buildings and sold it to Captain Bowie.

If it was a point, then it would have been owned by whoever owned the lot adjacent, but if it was an island, then the treaty would have excluded it from that property. The value was now set by the Lands Department at $170, up from the $15 the land was assessed at by Mr. Picotte, and they were to ask for tenders from the two parties. Both had spent money thinking they owned the island, now would they have to pay the Indian Department for the island?

(Nearby Gull island as shown in 1930 at low water levels and today, mostly submerged)

So both parties, Captain Bowie and Andrew Brunelle were sent a letter to make tenders to the Indian Department, for land they both think they own, or at least have claim to. MR AB Thompson now sends a letter to the Indian department stating that Mr Brunelle has deed to that property, so doesn't think he should buy it again. He goes on to say that in the original Goessman survey it was part of the mainland and is included in the 29 acres granted to the Canada Company and sold, eventually become in the hands of Alexander Brunelle.

Meanwhile the debate continues, is it, or has it ever been an island? The work of Goessman apparently is the answer. So even though Emery Brunelle, who joins with Alexandre in the attempted purchase believes he owns the property, he still submits a tender to the Indian department of $100. A sum below the asking price of $170.

At this point the only tender received is from Mr. Brunelle, and the island was not considered part of the lot, but not very much reason is given. Apparently they really didn't know and were prepared to accept money for a piece of land they didn't really know was there.

So Emery and Alexander Brunelle, in partnership, purchased the island, again. But without the improvements that Captain Bowie owned on the island. Captain Bowie was given a chance to remove the improvements, but sheds and wharves are not easily moved, so he asked that in Lieu of removal, he receive $100. So I assume the two parties of Brunelle andBowie had probably been arguing over this island/point before, but since they put it in front of the Government, instead of Mr. Brunelle paying Mr Bowie for his improvements, he paid the Government instead. (Seems about right!)

However, like all Governments, they were more than willing to accept cash they may not have deserved, but had a problem giving anyone else money. So they denied the request and gave Captain Bowie a month to remove the items.

Instead, once again Mr. Brunelle wrote a cheque, this time to Mr. Bowie. For 5 dollars, not the 100$ requested. Which Captain Bowie reluctantly accepted. What else could he do?

As for Mr Goessmans map, that he surveyed in 1818? He shows a connecting arm to the lot 20 13th concession, there fore not an island, as it is not an island today. There fore it should have been included in the sale made to Mr Brunelle, from Mr Corriveau, at least by my understanding. But I should qualify that understanding as not ever really understanding what the Government is doing now, then or in the future.

Art Duval Pipesmoke of the Past

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