Nature Trail ~ Elders

“I think ‘old’ should take on measure of respect. Why not change the word to ‘elder’ to emphasize the important role we play?” – Matilda Lewis.

Remembered as kind and devoted people, Denny and Matilda Lewis played important roles in their Mi’kmaq community. Affectionately known as “Gitjo” (grandmother) Matilda lived to the age of 92, even though she loved smoking Club brand chewing tobacco in a pipe.

Denny and Matilda raised six children and supported themselves through a combination of farming, fishing, hunting and the manufacturing of household wares. Matilda was skilled in basket weaving and beadwork. They often went by dory to nearby Hog Island to collect maple sap and pick blueberries and cranberries, which they would bring home in birch-bark containers. Bessie MacNeill, who ran a store with her husband in neighbouring Tyne Valley, remembers Denny and Matilda walking over the ice to trade their crafts for supplies. Matilda taught Bessie the Mi’kmaq alphabet.

Denny Lewis served in WWI and suffered for years from skin problems caused by exposure to mustard gas. Central to their life was their faith and St. Anne’s church. Their daughter, Mary Ann, cherishes recordings of her mom and dad singing hymns in Mi’kmaq. Denny and Matilda are buried here on the island that was their home for nearly a century.