History of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

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Surnames/tags: Ontario Franco-Ontarians
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Sault Ste. Marie, located on the St. Mary’s River in Ontario, Canada, is the seat of the Algoma District and one of the oldest French settlements in North America. It is the third largest city in Northern Ontario after Sudbury and Thunder Bay.



  • Before European contact - The Sault Ste. Marie area was traditionally controlled by Ojibway-Chippewa-Algonquin nations, who are also known as the Anishnawbe. Archaeological evidence indicates that the eastern Lake Superior Ojibway have been settled along the St. Mary’s River corridor for several thousand years.
  • 1623 - Étienne Brûlé named this spot "Sault de Gaston" in honour of Gaston, Duke of Orléans, brother of Louis XIII of France.
  • 1632 - Champlain drew a map of New France and marked the Sault, making it one of the first named places on any map of the New World.
  • 1669 – French Jesuit missionaries re-named this site "Sault Ste. Marie," The Rapids of St. Mary, and established a settlement on the south side of the river. When a fur trading post was opened, the settlement expanded across the river.
  • 1812 – The settlement was considered one town until the border was established between Canada and the United States along the St. Mary’s River after the War of 1812, dividing the community into Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
  • 1858 - Sault Ste. Marie was considered a Judicial District.
  • 1887 - Sault Ste. Marie was incorporated as a town, William Brown being its first mayor.
  • 1912 - Sault Ste. Marie was incorporated as a City.
  • 1918 - The town of Steelton was amalgamated with the City.
  • 1965 - The townships of Korah and Tarentorus amalgamated with the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
  • 1990 - Jan 29, 1990. The city council voted to have English as the only working language for official business. It created quite the national controversy and unpopular with Franco-Ontarians. In 1994, court ruled against this decision. In 2010, John Rowswell, mayor of Sault Ste Marie apologized to the French Canadians. [1]

Sault Ste. Marie—Vidal Survey—1846

The following lists those individuals who were residing on the North Bank of the St. Mary's River, or were in possession of land there, at the time of surveyor Alexander Vidal's visit to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This list, dated May 18, 1846, is considered to be the earliest known census for the community.

  1. Dwelling house - J. B. SOULIERE. He claims from the fend of the Hudson Bay Company to the dotted line, 5.I and has been in possession for 25 years on which he grounds his claim—he has no land enclosed.
  2. a roofless house belonging to - GOUDON, who has no land enclosed as does not reside in the place; is claim on the place is on purchase from J. B. SOULIERE of the piece between the dotted line and the fence of No. 3—5.50
  3. a small enclosure of ½ acre - G. Augustine LAROCHE, by possession.
  4. house and enclosure of Pierre BELLEAU who has been in possession 4 years, ye has a small enclosure of one acre, only partly under cultivation and claims 2.50 frontage
  5. house and enclosure of Michel BOUILLE who claims 2 chains, 50 links frontage and has about 3/4 of an acre enclosed, but not cultivated he has been in possession 12 years but has no other claim.
  6. house, barn and enclosure of Augustine LAROCHE who claims frontage 7.50 - 25 years in possession, he has about 3 ½ acres fenced in and under cultivation
  7. house and enclosure of J. B. CHARILER - who claims 2.5 frontage, 2/3 acre enclosed; he has occupied the spot 25 years on which he rests his claim; one fence encloses this and the too preceding pieces.
  8. house and enclosure of William PERRAULT: claims 2.5 frontage, has been in possession 2 years, 1 1/3 acres enclosed, no other claim.
  9. houses and small, detached enclosures of Alexis BIRON containing together about 1/4 acres, he claims a frontage of 5.75 acres by purchase 2 yrs ago from one Camerone who had been long in possession.
  10. house, small barn, enclosure of about 4 acres -BRASSARD he claims a frontage of 7 chains by purchased from the former occupant: MCKAY, 3 yrs ago who had no claim but possession
  11. two enclosures containing together 2 ½ acres - Michel LEBATTE - who has had possession 12 yrs, claims frontage of 5.5 chains
  12. house and enclosure of Louis MIRON - claims frontage of 5.50 chains by purchase l0 years ago from one BLACK who had been some time in possession; has 2 1/4 acres fenced in
  13. houses, barn and enclosures of Joseph LEFOND who has within five and under cultivation, 10 acres, he has been in possession 31 years and claims a frontage of 3 arpens under a written authority from Major WINNIETT when commanding at Drummond Island.
  14. house and enclosure of Francois LAROSE - claims frontage of 1.80 given to his wife by her father who had been 29 years in possession he has 3 1/2 acres enclosed. No. 29
  15. houses and enclosures of Alexis BIRON - who has been in possession for 31 years under a written authority from Major WINNIETT—he claims a frontage of 3.50 and has fenced in 4 acres. No. 28
  16. house belonging and occupied by Francois LAROSE (see No. 14) built on land purchased from Alexis BIRON of No. 15
  17. house, barn and enclosures occupied by Etienne JOLLINEAU - who has been in possession 27 years he claims a frontage of 4 chains and has enclosed 5 acres. Lot No. 27
  18. house and enclosure of Charles CADOTTE - he has been in possession 15 years he claims 80 links in front and 1.00 in rear, has enclosed 3/4 of an acre. Lot No. 2_
  19. house and enclosure of Joshua TROTT who purchased them from a person having a claim of possession 6 years ago they contain together a little over 1/2 an acre. Lot No. 26
  20. The BURIAL GROUND of 1795 claimed by the Roman Catholic Church, it has been in use for over 50 years and has many graves in it some old timber prepared ages ago for building a church still lies on the ground. it has an area of over 3/5 of an acre. Lot No.__
  21. an enclosure containing over 3/4 of acre. fenced in and this acreage claimed by BRASSARD of No. 10. Lot No. 25
  22. enclosures and buildings occupied by Joseph WILSON Esquire - the dwelling house is of stone, two stories high and the other large building of wood - they were erected and the land fenced in and cultivated by Mr. ERMATINGER 30 years ago; I cannot ascertain who is in the present claimant but on information that the Bishop of Toronto was supposed to have purchased it many years since and that it was occupied by missionaries for 9 years. Mr WILSON has been residing in it for 3 years; the buildings and fences are much out of repair - 36 acres were formerly enclosed, but only 14 remain, it has a frontage of 12 chains. Lot No. 24
  23. enclosures and houses of J. B. CONTIEN who has been in possession 19 years, the last half of this lot is said to belong to Marguerite LEFONTAINE, Madame CONTIEN’S daughter by a former husband—CONTIEN claims a frontage of 6 chains he has 6 acres fenced in and a field of 4 1/2 acres of which the fence is down.
  24. house and enclosure of Madame PERRAULT in whose family it has been for 30 years, the frontage is 1.5 and the area of the enclosure is 1 1/2 acres.
  25. house and enclosure of Raymond MASTAT, who purchased it from BELL whose family it had been in possession for 30 years; he claims a frontage of 1.80 and has 2 1/2 acres fenced in.
  26. house and enclosure of Henry SAYER - who has been in possession of it for 28 years; has a frontage of 2.80 and nearly 2 1/2 acres enclosed.
  27. house and enclosure of Joseph SAYER, NE-BE-NAW-CO-JING, son of an Indian Chief, he bought the right of possession from the former occupant 12 years ago, claims a frontage of 3 chains and 2 1/2 acres enclosed.
  28. house, barn and enclosures of Ambrose LAURETTE, who has been in possession 26 years; he has a frontage of 1.80 and has enclosed 3 acres.
  29. house, barn and enclosure of J. B. LESAGE - who bought it from the previous occupant 28 years ago, he has a frontage of 3.60 and has 5 1/2 acres enclosed.
  30. house, barn and enclosure of Xavier PERRAULT - who has occupied it for 26 years; has a frontage of 4 chains and has nearly 3 acres enclosed.
  31. house, barn and enclosure of J. B. CRACHEUR who has been in possession 11 years; he has a frontage of 4.30 and has nearly 6 acres enclosed.
  32. Occupied by Joseph BOISSENNEAU - who owns the buildings and the east part of the lot; he claims frontage pf 3 arpens under written authority from Major WINNIETT when Commanding at Drummond Island and has been in possession 30 years; the west part belongs to a Mademoiselle ST. GEORGE, now resident in Montreal who also holds under written authority from Major WINNIETT and has left it in charge of Boissenneau; her claim is 3.35 frontage as near as I can ascertain, but Boissenneau has all with once fence; the extent of the enclosure is 9 1/2 acres.
  33. house and enclosure of Joseph BOISSENNEAU, Junior. - he claims a part in his father’s right mentioned above (No. 32) and the rest mostly by possession, his frontage is 5.50 and he has 2 1/2 acres enclosed.
  34. house and enclosure of - LISK who purchased from the previous occupant 4 years ago, he has 5.20 frontage and 2 1/2 acres enclosed
  35. houses and enclosure of I. B. DENOMME - who has been in possession 12 years, he has a frontage of 6 chains, and has 3 1/2 acres enclosed
  36. house and enclosure of St. Marc MARTIN - who took possession 5 years ago but has been absent for 2 years; he is expected to return this year, he has a frontage of 10 chains and has 4 3/4 acres enclosed
  37. house and buildings of a Rev W. CMMERON who purchased from the previous occupant a few years ago, he left the place few months ago and now resides in the United States, the frontage of the lot is 6 chains and there are 5 1/4 acres enclosed.
  38. an enclosure of uncleared land of which Mr. Wm. CAMERON (No. 37) took possession, it contains 9 1/4 acres and has a frontage of 10.80
  39. house, barn and enclosure of John DRIVER who purchased from BRISSETTE, the previous occupant, he has a frontage of 11 chains and has 10 acres enclosed.
  40. an enclosure fenced in with brush wood by Joshua TROTT (No. 19) on which he has cleared a little, the greater part remains unimproved; the enclosure has a frontage of about 12 chains and contains about 10 acres.
  41. an enclosure of about 10 acres on which a church has been erected, and within which are a few graves; it is in possession of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND though never used now, no Minister having resided here for 3 or 4 years
  42. See the next to No. __.
  43. a house occupied by a sister of Henry SAYERS (of No. 26) who has permission to reside there; she is a widow with a small family.



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