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  • Writer's pictureOntario Métis Facts

Métis Connections from Penetanguishene to Sault Ste. Marie

Despite forced relocation and colonization, the Upper Great Lakes Métis Community has maintained deep enduring connections, particularly between Penetanguishene and Sault Ste. Marie.

Michel (Michael) Labatte, for example, was heavily involved in Métis political activities throughout the Upper Great Lakes. He signed Métis petitions in both Penetanguishene (1840) and Sault Ste. Marie (1850) and, later in life, recounted his family’s many connections throughout the Upper Great Lakes Métis Community.

“I was born at Sault Ste. Marie (on the American side) in 1814, the last year of the war, my mother being there on a visit to friends at the time, though our home was on Drummond Island. My father was Louis George Labatte. … He was a soldier in the British Army, and was at the capture of Mackinaw in 1812… My mother's name was Louisa Cadotte.”

Michael sustained a lifelong connection to Sault Ste. Marie, and by 1850 lived on a river lot alongside members of the Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community.

He also acted as a key line of communication between Penetanguishene and Sault Ste. Marie, working as a mail carrier between the two communities, later writing:

“I carried the mail to the ‘Sault’ in winter on snow-shoes. I made the trip from Penetanguishene to the ‘Sault’ and back (three hundred miles) with a sleigh and two dogs in fifteen days-snow three feet deep. I once made the trip in fourteen days. Dig a hole in the snow with my snow-shoes, spread spruce boughs, eat piece of cold pork, smoke pipe and go to sleep.”

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