Spirit of the Island:  Manitoulin’s People
Stories of Indigenous – Settler Historical Dynamics


Thank you for visiting our web site – please feel free to browse at your leisure.  This work focuses on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, with the topics relating to all of Canada.  Manitoulin Island is meaningful to me most significantly on a personal level.  Over the years, as my involvement with the local communities and schools continued to grow, my personal connection expanded to focus on professional involvement and community-based academic research.

photo by Ronald O. Paulsen

Dominion Acres homestead, in the back yard off the deck


This book is based on learning through storytelling; doing so emphasizes the personal experiences of the contributors who share their stories in this place.  The stories are not interrupted and the listener (or reader) can become part of the storyteller’s experience when left alone with the author’s words speaking to them personally; the lessons can then be absorbed.  For this reason, my ‘Author’s Notes’ (the academic data) are added as information that connects the stories with current research and critical events.

To respect the value of shared learning through stories, the term ‘gatherings’ is used rather than ‘chapters’.  Doing so reflects the traditional setting of families gathering together with children listening to the Elders’ stories first-hand, not reading about their experiences through a removed venue. Hence, inter-generational connections are supported.

photo by R. L. Paulsen

Inter-generational family time, Dominion Bay, Manitoulin Island


During the time that I was conducting research with the island communities and schools (with emphasis on the students), Elders approached me in support.  I was invited to wonderful sharing times around kitchen tables with berries and tea, listening to their stories and experiences.  It is with deep respect and gratitude that the local Elders’ and Anishinabek student voices are heard in this work.

This book is supported with a Teacher’s Guidebook in order to accommodate its use in schools.  Additionally, the book is translated in three languages:  English, French, and a volume combining English and Anishinaabemowin in support of the revitalization of language learning.

photo by L. Paulsen

Dominion Bay, Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada


Manitoulin Island has been a place of gathering, growing, healing, and remembering.  Thus, my choice for the title of this book Spirit of the Island: Manitoulin’s People – Stories of Indigenous – Settler Historical Dynamics, since the island truly has spirit.

We welcome you to embrace our stories, feel the energy, and experience the spirit of healing and personal growth. The words may evoke emotions that range from empathy to joviality, from despair to empowerment.  But of one thing we are sure, the peoples’ stories will remain with you long after the cover is closed.