Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada





Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches

"Chiefswood, Childhood Home of Poetess Pauline Johnson"

uncredited, August 1992, Vol.4 No.2, Page 8


  Some years ago the Travel Committee of the Grand River Branch created a fund, with profits from bus tours to the Mohawk Valley, and others, designated "Chiefswood Restoration".  The fund of $2,500.00 , diligently managed by Treasurer Kathleen Pasnyk, has grown to approximately $3,500.00, and by motion at the March meeting will be presented to the Chiefswood Restoration Project Committee when our Liaison, Past President Mrs. Doris Marcellus, advises that work has commenced.

 The final report by the consultants on the restoration shows the total project cost at $766,000.00.  Major structure repairs are need on the roof and also on the rotting walnut foundation beams.  Washrooms, wheelchair access and museum rooms will be built before Chiefswood is open to the public.

 Chiefswood was built in 1853 by Mohawk Chief George H. M. Johnson for his English-born bride Emily S. Howells.  Chief Johnson was a descendant of a member of the First Council of the Iroquois Confederacy founded in the late 16th century by the Onondaga leader Hiawatha.  His father John "Smoke" Johnson was a hero of the War of 1812 and a Speaker of the Council of the Six Iroquois nations for more than forty years.  Dignitaries who visited the Six Nations and stayed at Chiefswood include: The Prince of Wales (King Edward VII), the sixth Governor-General of Canada, Alexander Graham Bell, etc.  Chiefswood was the birthplace and girlhood home of E. Pauline Johnson.

  Pauline Johnson became internationally known for her poems.  She gave readings, dressed in a full buckskin gown, across North America and in Europe.  Her poems revealed the natural setting of the Grand River of her youth.

  Chiefswood, the only remaining Indian mansion of importance in Canada from before Confederation, was bequeathed to the Six Nations Band Council by the last surviving members of the family in 1926.  It was declared an historic site in 1958, opened as a museum in 1963 and was closed some years ago because it was deteriorating rapidly.

  Chiefswood is a part of Canadian and Six Nations history and deserves to be preserved as evidence of a special past.  Grand River Branch commends the Chiefswood Restoration Project Committee for undertaking this vast project.