The History of Christian Island
Approximately 200 years before the Ojibway settled on Christian Island, a Jesuit mission
established there. It was then known as Isle St. Joseph to the new comers and Gahoendoe
to the Huron people. At this time, the area was inhabited by the Huron Nation who had
migrated from the north shore of Lake Ontario upon the arrival of the Europeans. During
this time, there was warfare between the Hurons and the Iroquois. After four local Huron
villages were destroyed, the people sought refuge on Christian Island with the Jesuits.
More and more people migrated to this island with hopes of protection resulting in famine
conditions during the winter of 1650. In the month of June that year, the Jesuits and
about 300 Hurons left for Quebec City. Most of the other Hurons fled to Manitoulin
Island, while some remained on the Island. Few if any Hurons survived the continuing
attacks in 1651.
The Arrival of the Ojibway People
The ancestors of the Beausoleil Band moved from Lake Superior to the Lake Simcoe area
in 1683. After various treaties, land surrenders, a merging with some members of the
Pottawatomi Nation, Roman Catholic Ottawas and the people from Drummond Island,
they came together in an area between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay. This was known
as the Coldwater Narrows Reserve. In 1830, three distinct groups of people resided on
this land. There were the people under the leadership of Chief John Assance, people
under Chief Yellowhead and the third group led by Chief Snake. Differences in religion
and culture caused friction for these people who were confined to this area. They were
expected to live a farming life style, a foreign concept to these hunters and gatherers.
The settlement was surrendered in 1836. Chief Yellowhead's band purchased 1600 acres of
land at Rama creating that reserve in 1838. Chief Snake and his people stayed on Snake
Island in Lake Simcoe. In 1842, the people under the leadership of Chief John Assance
moved to present day Beausoleil Island in Matchedash Bay, which was called Prince
William Henry Island. They soon discovered that the soil was unfit for cultivation and
they looked elsewhere for a suitable site. In 1856, they eventually moved to Christian
Island after the three bands surrendered four Islands in Georgian Bay, Beausoleil Island
being one of them. In the 1856 treaty three islands were reserved as the permanent
settlement of the Beausoleil Band. In 1891, the identity of the separate bands was
Location: Christian Island, Hope & Beckwith Islands
Beausoleil First Nation consists of three islands, Christian Island, Hope Island and
Beckwith Island as well as several tiny islands close to the shores of the larger islands.
Also belonging to the Beausoleil First Nation is an area consisting of 16 acres located on
the mainland at Cedar Point. These islands are located in southern Georgian Bay off Lake
Huron in Ontario, Canada. This region is a popular tourist attraction for many cottagers.
The people of the Beausoleil First Nation have settled on Christian Island, the other
islands have not been developed. Christian Island is approximately 3 kms from the
mainland, approximately 65 kms from Barrie and 160 kms from Toronto.
The largest island is Christian Island with approximately 9,820 acres in land base.
Beckwith Island covers 2,130 acres and Hope Island covers 1,350 acres. Both Beckwith
and Hope Islands have retained their undeveloped state making it an ideal summer
Election for office is held every two years and are regulated by the Indian Act. The
council consists of ten councillors and one chief.