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  • Writer's pictureOntario Métis Facts

Burning Out Métis Families at Agawa Bay

Following the loss of the Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community’s traditional River Lots, in the early decades of the 20th century, a group of Métis families re-established themselves at Agawa Bay.

Around 1903, Dave Bussineau and his wife Mary started to build a home at Agawa Bay. Soon after, Arthur Davieux and his wife Viola also moved to the Bay, followed by the Roussain family around 1920. Louis Miron and his family also lived on an island nearby.

For more than 60 years, these four families lived a beautiful life at Agawa Bay. They hunted, fished, gardened, harvested maple sugar, cut wood, and guided tourists. Many of their relatives came and went with the seasons.

As with many small Métis villages across west central North America, however, the Métis families at Agawa Bay would once again be forced from their homes.

The first sign of change came in the early 1960s, when the Ontario government no longer allowed the Métis children of the Agawa Bay village to do their education by correspondence.

Then, in 1967, government officials arrived at Agawa Bay in float planes and told the families they had to leave. According to the officials, the Métis villagers were “squatters” who had no right to live there. The newly created Lake Superior Provincial Park, they said, was intended “for the enjoyment of all, not the few.”

Records show that between 1959 and 1968, the Ontario government relentlessly acquired all of the property in the park, including from the Métis “squatters” that included, “Dave and H Bussineau, W Roussain, M. Roussain, Edna Roussain, A. Davieaux.”

The final act in this forced eviction occurred in 1968 when government employees burned the Métis homes to the ground. One Crown employee later recalled that they, “torched a lot of the buildings that had to go…nobody considered anything here of historical significance.”

The Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community continues to remember and advocate those Agawa Bay families today.

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