JOHN (Gohn), NOEL, Micmac chief; fl. 1821–41 in New Brunswick.
An Indian reserve at Buctouche, N.B., was authorized by the province on 1 Nov. 1810; it lay on the north side of the Buctouche River and was 3,500 acres in extent. The Buctouche Indians were closely connected to those of the Richibucto River, and all met at Richibucto Island (Indian Island) each 26 July for the St Ann’s Day festivities.
Parts of the reserve were laid out in 100-acre lots to be held for a term of years by individual Indians. Noel John was one of these by 1821. He was a man of some education, for on 20 July of that year he wrote in his own hand to Provincial Secretary William Franklin Odell that “some of the Frenchmen” were trying to take over Cocagne Island, the only place where his band could cut hay. To oblige the Indians to give up the island, he explained, would be to force them to give up farming. He evidently met with some success, for the Indians were able to continue using part of the island.
John was not averse to losing some of the reserve lands; he sold a mill site on the river in 1832 and confirmed the transaction in a petition that he signed as chief, making Xs for 14 members of his band. But when a small portion was sold off in 1837 at the high price of 10s. an acre, and more in 1839 at 3s., the proceeds went into the casual revenues of the province instead of benefiting the Indians.
Moses Henry Perley*, New Brunswick’s commissioner of Indian affairs, who undertook an extensive investigation into the condition of the province’s Indians in 1841, expressed a high regard for Noel John. He was, said Perley, “well informed as to Indian affairs [and] very intelligent,” a man who “possesses much influence with the Indians” of the Buctouche–Richibucto area and who deserved the medal that had been promised to him. Such medals were of considerable importance as marks of official approval and as badges of rank that were passed on from chief to chief. With suitable ceremony, Perley presented one to John in October 1841.
Perley asked John to accompany him as interpreter on the second stage of his investigations, a journey which would take him to northern New Brunswick. John, he wrote, had “a perfect knowledge of the dialects spoken on the Coast.” After such a mark of official esteem, John presumably agreed.
Chief John was the only member of the Buctouche band to live in a house, and he also owned some property. The rest lived in wigwams on the reserve. Perley reported it to be one of the more successful settlements. The population stood at 93, of whom 51 were children, a good ratio not always found. The Indians relied largely on fishing and fowling, but had cleared a hundred acres of land, raised a little wheat and had harvested 660 barrels of potatoes in the previous year. There were also five white squatters on the land. Attrition of the reserve continued, and by the time of confederation it was reduced to slightly over 2,700 acres.
N.B. Museum, W. F. Ganong papers, box 38, item 3, Sydenham to Sir John Harvey, 10 Dec. 1840; items 17–18, M. H. Perley to Alfred Reade, 9–10 Aug. 1841. PAC, RG 10, CII, 469, Harvey to Thomson, 16 June 1840. PANB, RG 2, RS7, 26: 68; RS8, Indians, 1/1, John Noel to W. F. Odell, 20 July 1821. PRO, CO 188/106: 206–33. UNBL, MG H54, Peter and Albert Smith, petition to Sir Archibald Campbell, 10 April 1832; Noel John, certificate, 14 Aug. 1832. N.B., House of Assembly, Journal, 1838: 188; 1842, app.: civ–cv, cxxvii–cxxviii. Source materials relating to N.B. Indian (Hamilton and Spray). Upton, Micmacs and colonists.
Cite This Article
L. F. S. Upton, “JOHN, NOEL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 20, 2013, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/john_noel_7E.html.
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|Author of Article:||L. F. S. Upton|
|Title of Article:||JOHN, NOEL|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1988|
|Year of revision:||1988|
|Access Date:||December 20, 2013|