Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saugeen Fleet

The high bluff overlooking the mouth of the Saugeen River was another favourite painting place of my friend Jane Champagne. In the morning the view has everything a plein air painter needs including the fleet of fishing boats parked on the south bank of the river. Scubby`s Bluff has benches as well and I made some extra cash by picking up beer cans just in case the art didn`t turn out.

Historically the mouth of the Saugeen River, surrounded by a fertile valley has been home to various nations since the ice sheets retreated. The Chippewas of Saugeen First Nations and their ancestors called it home. European influence first arrived with the Jesuit Fathers who established two missions in Bruce County. The Mission of St. Peter and St. Paul is believed to have been located near the mouth of the Saugeen River. After the Missionaries arrived, fur traders soon came into the area. During the excavation of the Victoria St. Bridge, a Cross of Lorraine was found, believed to be from 1773-1809. The cross has the stamp of Robert Cruikshank an Irish settler in Montreal who manufactured silver ornaments, which were distributed to the North West Company and to other traders. Pierre Pich established a trading post on the South side of the Saugeen River in 1818. In 1822, surveyor Henry Bayfield noted the presence of "Indian traders" at the mouth of the Saugeen River.

Artist Paul Kane visited the area in 1846. He wrote, The Indian village of Saugeen, meaning the mouth of the river contains about two hundred inhabitants (Ojibways). It is the site of a former battleground between the Ojibways as usually pronounced or Chippawas, and the Mohawks. Of this, the mounds erected over the slain afford abundant evidence in the protrusion of the bones through the surface of the ground. A few years after Kane's visit, town plans were laid out in 1851. Surveyor R. Lynn P.L.S., was instructed to strike a plot at the mouth of the Saugeen.

Jane and other artists have painted and the site for many years and I expect that trend to continue.

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