A Canadian Family

Natives, French Canadians & Acadians

Kahnawa:ke – Home of the Haudenosaunee



This vintage postcard of the Iroquois village of Kahnawake/Caughnawaga really appeals to me. First, for aesthetic reasons – I love the soft colours, the play of shadows and the way I can pick out architectural details such as the timber siding on the homes. Secondly, I live and teach in the area, so I’ve had friends and students who came from Kahnawake. The last reason is a bitter one, because the Iroquois/Haudenosaunee of Kahnawake and my ancestors are connected in an unhappy way. As I’ve related elsewhere, my Quebec ancestor Andre Mignier dit Lagace came to Quebec in the early 1600s to help in the war against the Iroquois. The Iroquois nations (Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Tuscarora) had sided with the British and were attempting to regain lands which were originally theirs, but were now part of La Nouvelle France. It’s unfortunately the way of the world that my ancestors often seemed to have been displacing others – or were themselves being displaced.

Nowadays, Kahnawake is a modern, thriving community and over the last twenty years it’s witnessed a true renaissance of Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) culture – along with the other Canadian Mohawk settlements of Kanesatake, Akwesasne, Tyendinaga and Watha, as well as the American settlements of Ganienkeh and St-Regis in New York.

This recent electoral map shows the present distribution of land between Chateauguay and Kahnawake. To the north of the map you see part of the island of Montreal. Chateauguay and Kahanawake are both on the south shore but as you can see from both the map and postcard, Kahnawake is nestled next to the waters of the St-Lawrence River. The bridge in the background of the postcard is the CPR train bridge which was built before the Mercier Bridge which now connects us all to the Island of Montreal. The CPR bridge runs roughly parallel to the Mercier (Thanks to Peter Lenihan for extra correction)


As I said, this is the land distribution today – but in fact, an injustice was done because much of the surrounding land (including where my house now sits) should actually have stayed in Mohawk hands. You can read the full story of how the Mohawk lost as much as 2/3 of their land at the Kahnawake Band Council site below.



Land Grant by King Louis (France)


Related Posts:

Index: First Peoples Genealogy and History

Further Reading






Carnival Host:

Donna Pointkouski


April 26, 2009 - Posted by | . |


  1. Hi there. I found your blog again. It isn’t linked to your name in my followers. Being the researcher I tracked you down through Geneabloggers on Facebook. Lol.
    I don’t see a followers button on your page. Am I just missing it or have you decided against that? I would like to follow your informative pages but my memory is terrible.(why I had to go through FB to get here)


    Comment by Lori E | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. I wouldn’t have noticed that many of the houses were timbered without your direct mention. Thank you for the detailed card description! You are creating such a valuable resource here Evelyn. Your article is delightfully jammed packed with history and the wonderful news that the Mowhak community is thriving and flourishing. This is just fascinating!


    Comment by Marie | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi Evelyn,
    I enjoyed the article and you are right, the postcard view
    of the town is beautiful.

    I also understand your feelings about the part your ancestors
    played in the displacement of the Native American peoples. Some of my own were involved in the events here in New England
    that resulted in disaster for the Indian peoples.



    Comment by Bill West | May 3, 2009 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the post, Evelyn. We need to see more posts about native history. The Six Nations Reserve on the Grand River here in Ontario is relatively prosperous ever since their ancestors came in 1783-1784. We have many more in this country that fare not so well.


    Comment by Brenda | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  5. Hi, Its me Kate,
    I like this postcard because I love the bright and dark colors. I think this postcard is a painting because it doesn’t look like a real painting.I also think that this postcard was in the olden days.
    I love this postcard,


    Comment by Kate | September 25, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Kate, how nice of you to drop by and take a look at my postcard. This is one of my favourite postcards.


      Comment by evelynyvonnetheriault | September 25, 2009 | Reply

  6. Thank you for your website. I am researching Marie Louise Denault born 1835 in Caughnawaga,Roussillon, Quebec. She was either my great-grandfather’s sister-in-law or his mother.
    Are there separate records for the reservation, or should I be looking in the Canadian records?

    Note from Evelyn: Contacted by email.


    Comment by George Johnson | January 17, 2010 | Reply

  7. I am sorry, but I did not receive an email. However, I realize that I need to locate records about my great-grandfather’s birth, such as a birth certificate or baptismal records. So, I will have to see if any such exist in the New York State or Clinton County NY archives or in any church files in NY or Quebec.
    Thank you for posting my questions.


    Comment by George Johnson | January 31, 2010 | Reply

  8. Very nice site.Just a small point…..the bridge seen in the back ground of the post card is not the Mercier bridge as you mention but rather the CPR train bridge built much much earlier. The homes in the post card were all destroyed or moved when the Federal government decided to build the St.Lawrence Seaway.This required the native people to lose again more land. Shameful the way we have treated our native neighbours……………………



    Comment by peter lenihan | October 22, 2011 | Reply

    • Dear Mr. Lenihan,

      Perhaps the text was updated after you made your post but as I read it at the moment, the note regarding the bridge reads _*emphasis added*_:
      “The bridge in the background of the postcard _*is the CPR train bridge*_ which was _*built before the Mercier Bridge*_ which now connects us all to the Island of Montreal. The CPR bridge runs roughly parallel to the Mercier”



      Comment by R Pouliot | February 18, 2012 | Reply

  9. Kwe Kwe,

    I am looking for your permission to use on our hospitals User Committee Brochure. We have fallen in love with the photo of what Kahnawake used to look like.

    I could supply you with more information, as needed.


    Note from Evelyn: Replied privately


    Comment by Lisa Peterson | May 15, 2012 | Reply

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