The White Chief of the Ottawa -1903 By Bertha Wright Carr-Harris.


Cat No.:   CA0256:

Although written in the narrative style usually associated with a novel, the author assures us that this is not fiction but a depiction of the facts and events exactly as they occurred, or exactly as her research told her that they occurred.


The tale being told is that of the first settlement of the “white man” in the Ottawa valley, that being the long fertile valley through which the Ottawa - or sometimes the Grand - river flows and today passes by the Canadian Capital city. Philemon Wright, that first settling farmer, in fact set up his homestead on the north shore of the Ottawa river directly opposite the present site of the capital city in what is today the city of Hull, Quebec. He judged the North bank to be superior for the purpose of farming and it was several years before there was any settlement in the site of the present city of Ottawa.


Let me hasten to make it clear that being the first settling farmer doesn’t make Philemon Wright the first visitor to this area. Far from it. There were many hunters and trappers of both european and aboriginal extraction working and living along the river’s banks at the time of his arrival, and these people play an important role in the evolving story of the Wright family.


Bertha Wright Carr-Harris, the author chooses to add authenticity to her account by writing the supposed speech of many of these characters in a sort of phonetic imitation of their accents, including using the actual words they would have spoken, usually a mixture of English, French and the local tribe’s dialect. This is a practice that certainly adds color to the story although it does necessitate the reader taking a few stops along the way to sound-out a word before it can be understood.


As Bertha develops her tale of the Wright family we learn a great deal about the life of a settler in the early 1800’s. Of their joys. Of their hardships, their fortunes and their misfortunes. A great resource if you want to put some “meat” on the “bones” of your ancestral settlers history.


While this is more like a story than a conventional “history” book it still contains information specific to particular families and about specific locations so our FastFind search-ability feature will be found to be a great asset, particularly as Bertha omitted to index her original text.


This copy of the book was originally given to Mabel Kirke in 1904 as a prize for “general proficiency” by the Almonte High School and so has probably remained in the Ottawa valley all of its life which, from its present condition, has not always been an easy one.


One of its misfortunes has been to lose an illustration of Colonel By, the famous builder of the Rideau Canal, from amongst its leaves. All the pages of text and all the other 9 illustrations remain however, and you will not be able to tell from this reproduction that the book was in less than perfect condition.


This valuable book has been loaned to us by its proud owner, Karen Prytula. We were pleased to receive her offer to allow us to scan the book so we could help her to preserve it and at the same time make it more available. Please join us in thanking Karen, and letting her know that her generosity is being appreciated.


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No. of CDs is:  1 ;   Format is:  PDF ;   Searchable?:  YES;

FastFind:  YES;  ISBN No.:   978-1-897405-13-0 ;