LETTERS: White family history letter a delight to read

Researcher Michelle Caesar adds to the wealth of historical notes

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an addendum to ‘A tribute in memorium of an Island pioneer’ found on Page 5 of the June 20 edition. The author, Michelle Caesar, had researched the point of land named in honour of the White family found just outside Little Current, and her childhood home, and shares the following with Expositor readers.

To the Expositor:

The Whites of the Long Point lowlands

For half a century we have been residents of White’s Point, a small community outside Little Current along the shores of the Strawberry Channel.  

It was a wonderful treat to read the letter to the editor in the June 20 edition of the Expositor by Raymond White, son of George White.

I had the opportunity to research this family a few years ago and could perhaps add a chapter to this remarkable family’s record.  

‘1866 must have been a very cold year.  All the crops failed on White’s Island, a small island just off shore in Rice Lake in Peterborough, Ontario. With the family facing starvation, the decision was made for George White, his wife Maribah and family to try farming further North. Since Maribah had band membership, they decided to try Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island. (I believe George Raymond White was then four- or five-years-old). When the Huron Robinson Treaty was signed with the other First Nations on the Island, the opportunity to move up towards Little Current on the Island presented itself.  George and his family homesteaded just a couple of miles south of the town in an area called ‘The Long Point Lowlands.’ Here they attempted to clear the land, build shelters, and raise their children. Lots and lots of children (one family raised eight kids, another 17). Eventually of course, there were so many Whites in the area, that Long Point came commonly known as White’s Point. Farming was extremely difficult though, as much of the land was alvar, with extremely thin soil. Like many other farmers, the White family spent the winters timbering the cedars and tamaracks in the surrounding areas. They supplied many of the squared railway ties for the Algoma Eastern Railway as it stretched from Espanola to the Little Current Swing Bridge. Later, Dryas White found better land at Ten Mile Point at 9th Side Road, with many of the family joining him. Others scattered across the Island to Green Bay, Silver Birches and into the towns. One of them became the Mayor of Little Current, back in the 1920s. In 1917 the Whites Point area was purchased from the Crown for $70 by George Willis.’

The determination and tenacity of this man and his family to survive in this often unforgiving land is a tribute to all those early settlers of Northern Ontario. They should not be forgotten.

Michelle Caesar

Ottawa