Bridging Two Peoples
Chief Peter E. Jones, 1843–1909
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Indigenous Studies
List of Maps, Tables, and Illustrations
The lack of abundant written sources makes the writing of biographies of nineteenth-century Aboriginal leaders extremely difficult. Fortunately, in the case of Dr. Peter Edmund Jones, who was an Aboriginal politician and later Indian agent, as well as a medical doctor and publisher of an Aboriginal newspaper, an extensive paper...
That beautiful flowers such as foxglove and opium poppies contain potent drugs remains a source of amazement, even though as a physician I recognize that they have been largely replaced by synthetic chemical equivalents. In their northern climes, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples discovered many medicinal plants, roots, and...
My research began inside the old schoolhouse of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Margaret Sault, director of land research and membership, on her own initiative, had meticulously maintained the archives of her people. I am most grateful for her interest and unstinting help in my history of medicine...
Chronology of Dr. Peter Edmund Jones’s Life
1. Peter Edmund Jones’s Origins
Dr. Peter Edmund Jones was the first known Status Indian to obtain an M.D. degree from a Canadian medical school. He graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1866 and received his licence to practise in November of that year.³ Along with his general practice in Hagersville, a small town near Hamilton in...
2. Medical Education
His year at an approved preparatory school enabled Peter Edmund Jones to gain entrance into the privately run Toronto School of Medicine in 1862.¹ The University of Toronto had been forced to privatize its medical and legal training programs in 1853 because the government believed that the province should not have to...
3. Country Doctor
New doctors were encouraged to work as an assistant to a registered practitioner following graduation, an early equivalent of a year spent as an intern or resident. In those days, as now, it was necessary to be fully responsible for patients before setting up one’s own practice. The medical school was well aware of the need to...
4. Pride in His Heritage
The Mississaugas of the New Credit reserve gradually became a successful farming community, complete with roads, fences, and bridges. In 1881, Chief Jones, supported by his council, decided that they were ready to have their own Council House.¹ Built at a cost of $550, the brick building had a high ceiling with a balcony...
5. Active Critic of the Indian Act
For many years Dr. Jones was actively involved in the Grand General Indian Council of Ontario and Quebec or Grand Council. While serving as head chief he led the elected delegation to the council, and the community paid the expenses. Every band had the right to send one delegate for each hundred or fraction of one...
6. Aboriginal Rights Advocate
Soon after becoming head chief, Jones made it his priority to obtain compensation for lands the Mississaugas had owned before they were forced to move to the New Credit reserve. In early nineteenth century, the Crown Lands’ Department of the Province of Canada had sold much of the Mississaugas’ ancestral lands...
7. Canada’s First Aboriginal Publisher
The urgent need to inform Aboriginals on the reserves of their right to vote and encourage them to register with election officers gave Dr. Jones the motivation he needed to launch his newspaper. He dedicated it to the interests of all the Aboriginals of North America, especially the Aboriginal peoples of...
8. Federal Indian Agent
In 1886 Dr. Jones found himself in difficult financial circumstances, and he sought new opportunities. Having worked tirelessly to support Macdonald’s Conservative party by inducing a significant number of his fellow Aboriginals to register with the voting authorities, Jones set his sights on obtaining a post in the...
9. The Later Years
With the loss of his jobs as Indian agent and band physician, Dr. Jones’s major sources of income disappeared at the same time. He made up his mind to practise medicine in Washington, DC, believing his career in Canada was over. His mentor, Sir John A. Macdonald, had died in 1891, leaving a disorganized political...
Appendix: Effective Herbal Therapies of Aboriginal Women