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Powwow Country: Chiefswood National Historic Site Six Nations, Ontario

Author: 
Compiled by Shari Narine
Volume: 
30
Issue: 
3
Year: 
2012

Chiefswood
National Historic Site
Six Nations

The birthplace and childhood home of Mohawk poet Pauline Johnson continues to be a popular place to visit and learn about the past. Chiefswood, located in southern Ontario on the Six Nations land near Brantford, was completed in 1856. It was built by Johnson’s father, George H.M. Johnson, who was a Mohawk chief of Six Nations. Besides serving as the chief, Johnson was considered a respected member of his community as he was also an intermediary with non-Aboriginal people. He started building the mansion in 1853 as a wedding present for his English bride, Emily Howells. Pauline Johnson, whose Mohawk name was Tekahionwake, was the youngest of four children in her family. She was born in Chiefswood, in a room overlooking the Grand River. She went on to receive wide acclaim for her Aboriginal writings of poems, essays and short stories. She often recited her works on stages across Canada and abroad and helped to enlighten many about Canada’s Aboriginal people through her writings. Chiefswood, now considered a national historic site, is a mansion that comprises about 2,100 square feet. The house was built using planks from walnut trees from the surrounding estate. The site now also includes the Chiefswood Museum, which re-opened in mid-May following some restoration work. The museum includes a gift shop where various souvenirs and books featuring Johnson’s works can be purchased.

For more information, check out www.chiefswood.com

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