Wolastoqiyik of the past knew the seasonal cycles of all the resources of the land thoroughly. The needs of the community were taken care of by all members working together. Traditional ecological knowledge, life skills and craftsmanship were passed down for generations. Keen observation of natural signs indicated what season it was and what needed to be done. For instance, the birds flying south meant time to move inland, and their return meant a move to the coast.

Generation after generation paid attention to the moons. To many, spring began when the snow melted in a ring around the maple tree. The sweetness of gathered syrup indicated what needed to be done next. Preparations for moving involved the making of canoes for future journeys. After the floods, it was fiddlehead season. The first feed of fiddleheads was always considered a healing and cleansing. Spring moons also meant planting of corn, beans and squash.

Summer was the most abundant season, provisionally and socially. All the family groups gathered on the coast for salmon runs and ocean fishing. Weirs, nets, and traps were constructed. The fish and shellfish were feasted with ceremonies. Wild f Read More
Wolastoqiyik of the past knew the seasonal cycles of all the resources of the land thoroughly. The needs of the community were taken care of by all members working together. Traditional ecological knowledge, life skills and craftsmanship were passed down for generations. Keen observation of natural signs indicated what season it was and what needed to be done. For instance, the birds flying south meant time to move inland, and their return meant a move to the coast.

Generation after generation paid attention to the moons. To many, spring began when the snow melted in a ring around the maple tree. The sweetness of gathered syrup indicated what needed to be done next. Preparations for moving involved the making of canoes for future journeys. After the floods, it was fiddlehead season. The first feed of fiddleheads was always considered a healing and cleansing. Spring moons also meant planting of corn, beans and squash.

Summer was the most abundant season, provisionally and socially. All the family groups gathered on the coast for salmon runs and ocean fishing. Weirs, nets, and traps were constructed. The fish and shellfish were feasted with ceremonies. Wild fruits, berries, and vegetables were gathered. Birds were hunted and their eggs gathered. Most of this abundance was preserved for the winter. Teas and medicines were gathered at full moons, and roots and tubers at new moons. Birch bark was picked for making containers at that time. All that abundance had to be carried back to the winter homes.

The families broke into smaller groups when they moved inland to their traditional hunting grounds. After making their winter homes; moose, caribou, deer, and beaver were hunted for meat and hides. Nuts and high bush berries were gathered and gardens harvested in preparation for the coming cold.

Preserved food helped them to survive, along with fish from ice-fishing and bear meat. Wolastoqiyik kept busy with the making of clothing, toys, and weapons. This was the time of storytelling and humor—the time of closeness.

This way of life ensured survival of the people for centuries. In the stories of Ronald E. Paul, a trapper from Sitansisk (St. Mary’s First Nation), it is evident that those ancient skills and cyclical activities lasted. Not only does he illustrate knowledge of the land, but also the work ethics and generosity of his ancestors.
In The Spirit of Mother Earth
Schmidt, Jeremy
1994 McQuiston & McQuiston
San Francisco

Expressive Culture
Akwe: Kon Journal
1994 Cornell University
Vol. XI, Nos 3 & 4, Ithaca; New York

Unbroken Circles
Northeast Indian Quarterly 1990
VII, No 4, Winter

Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume
Paternak, Josephine
1994 WW Norton & Co. Inc.
New York; New York

The Sacred
Beck, Peggy V; Francisco, Nia; Walters, Anna Lee
1977 Navajo Community College Press
Tsaile, Arizona

The Wabenakis of Maine & the Maritimes
1989 American Friends Committee

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

The continuing cycle of nature and the rhythms of life demand an immense capacity for observation, ingenuity and adaptation. The New Brunswick Museum houses some artifacts relating to the traditional strategies used by Wolastoqiyik to contend with the requirements of living in a temperate climate. Objects detailing transportation methods including dugout or birchbark canoes and snowshoes as well as the equipment and tools used in trapping and fishing combined with other forms of documentation in published accounts, artworks and photographs give some clues to the patterns of everyday life. Some of the artifacts, scale models made by, or in collaboration with, Wolastoqiyik, were collected to ensure that in the absence of original material, exact replicas might provide the details necessary to recreate objects should the knowledge be lost. Artifacts, such as birchbark storage boxes or bowls also reveal the accumulated knowledge of the environment and how material could be sensitively harvested in order to ensure availability of future resources.
The continuing cycle of nature and the rhythms of life demand an immense capacity for observation, ingenuity and adaptation. The New Brunswick Museum houses some artifacts relating to the traditional strategies used by Wolastoqiyik to contend with the requirements of living in a temperate climate. Objects detailing transportation methods including dugout or birchbark canoes and snowshoes as well as the equipment and tools used in trapping and fishing combined with other forms of documentation in published accounts, artworks and photographs give some clues to the patterns of everyday life. Some of the artifacts, scale models made by, or in collaboration with, Wolastoqiyik, were collected to ensure that in the absence of original material, exact replicas might provide the details necessary to recreate objects should the knowledge be lost. Artifacts, such as birchbark storage boxes or bowls also reveal the accumulated knowledge of the environment and how material could be sensitively harvested in order to ensure availability of future resources.

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

birchbark hatbox

hatbox, c. 1860, First Nations; Wolastoqiyik ?

Unknown
Gift of Harriet Hope Chandler, 1943

New Brunswick, CANADA
1943.114
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Wolastoqew Camp, Nerepis, New Brunswick

Wolastoqew Camp, Nerepis, New Brunswick, c. 1900

W. Albert Hickman ?
New Brunswick Museum Collection

Nerepis, New Brunswick, CANADA
X15573
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Scowload of Scovil's Turnips with Wolastoqew Baskets, Bound for Market

Scowload of Scovil's Turnips with Wolastoqew Baskets, Bound for Market, Gagetown, New Brunswick, c. 1920

Marianne Grey Otty ?
Marianne Grey Otty Collection

New Brunswick, CANADA
1989.95.51
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


canoe

canoe, c. 1875, First Nations; Wolastoqiyik

Unknown
Gift of Theodore Holland Estabrooks, 1941

New Brunswick, CANADA
41997
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Snowshoes by Terry Lee

snowshoes, c. 1875, First Nations; Wolastoqiyik ?

Terry Lee
Gift of the William Herbert DeVeber Estate, 1954, Photographed by W. Mark Polchies

New Brunswick, CANADA
1954.122
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


After the Caribou Hunt

After the Caribou Hunt, c. 1888

George Thomas Taylor, 1838-1913
Gift of Dr. William Francis Ganong, 1942

New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.1369
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


The following winter, when the snow covered the ground and the time was good for hunting moose all the Chief’s sons were making snowshoes. Koluskap said, “Uncle Turtle, go and make snowshoes to go with them.” Turtle asked how big he should make the snowshoes and Koluskap replied, “Seven times the span of your palm.”

Turtle then went and told the Chief, “I will make proper fine mesh snowshoes to accompany you hunting.” Not liking Turtle very much, the Chief’s wife said, “He won’t keep up to you. He’ll get snowed under.” The Chief disagreed, saying, “Remember, he brought a whale home on his back.”

They finished the snowshoes and started out. Turtle soon trailed behind because he kept falling down, finally becoming so sore he could barely walk. Disgusted, the Chief’s sons said, “What good are you? You can’t even snowshoe. You are just a bother to us.” One brother said, “We told you not to come.” Another said, “Put him on the toboggan. He can look after it when we get back. That’s about all he’s good for.”

N Read More
The following winter, when the snow covered the ground and the time was good for hunting moose all the Chief’s sons were making snowshoes. Koluskap said, “Uncle Turtle, go and make snowshoes to go with them.” Turtle asked how big he should make the snowshoes and Koluskap replied, “Seven times the span of your palm.”

Turtle then went and told the Chief, “I will make proper fine mesh snowshoes to accompany you hunting.” Not liking Turtle very much, the Chief’s wife said, “He won’t keep up to you. He’ll get snowed under.” The Chief disagreed, saying, “Remember, he brought a whale home on his back.”

They finished the snowshoes and started out. Turtle soon trailed behind because he kept falling down, finally becoming so sore he could barely walk. Disgusted, the Chief’s sons said, “What good are you? You can’t even snowshoe. You are just a bother to us.” One brother said, “We told you not to come.” Another said, “Put him on the toboggan. He can look after it when we get back. That’s about all he’s good for.”

Next morning they set out for moose and Turtle insisted on going along much to the annoyance of the Chief’s sons. They came to a yard and one of the sons said, “The moose have started,” and Turtle was instructed to follow the hunters. They all started after the moose but immediately Turtle fell down, the others tramping over him with their snowshoes. Turtle found himself buried under the snow and had difficulty regaining his feet. Koluskap, who had been observing all of this, thought it was time his Uncle did better. So Turtle struck out again, jumping over the low trees instead of going around them. He passed by the Chief’s sons but they did not recognize him because he was going so fast. They couldn’t even follow his trail as his steps were so far apart.

When the Chief’s sons finally caught up, Turtle had killed and skinned the moose, and had even cooked dinner. The Chief’s sons felt very ashamed of the way they had treated Turtle earlier. After the meal, they went back for their toboggans and loaded two quarters of moose each, but there remained two moose. Turtle piled it all on his toboggan but one brother remarked sarcastically, “He can’t haul that much.” Turtle once again used the power given by Koluskap and finding a short cut, arrived ahead of the others. Seeing how far ahead Turtle was, one of the Chief’s sons said to the others, “He is still going. We have to keep going or he will say how weak we are.”

During the night, the Chief woke up and went to get wood for the fire. Hearing the sound of a toboggan on snow, he saw Turtle coming with the load of moose meat. The Chief said to his wife, “Turtle is coming with moose meat.” But she replied, “Do you suppose Turtle could haul all of that? It is our sons.” The Chief woke his daughter anyway, telling her to get some food ready for her husband. Soon Turtle appeared, and the Chief said to his wife, “See, he has two moose in one load.” The Chief’s sons did not arrive until the next morning, utterly exhausted. Koluskap then went to see his Uncle and praised him for his great hunting feat.

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Trap model, used for trapping sable (marten)

trap model, c. 1940, used for trapping sable (marten), Woodstock First Nation

Major Edwin Tappan Adney, 1868-1950
Gift of Major Edwin Tappan Adney, 1943

New Brunswick, CANADA
1943.119
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the trapping season

My father, my grandparents, and the rest of the Indians, they used to work all day to prepare for the trapping season. We used to laugh at, we’d go there they’d split a big maple, long, thick maple and make the toboggans. And then the leather is tied on there, they had to make that now, within a day. Now and then them things, they slap you right in the face. Everybody had to get ready to prepare for it. This was like March weather because everything runs on top of the crust. They’d get snowshoes made, toboggans, then they’d go out and chase moose or deer.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the changing seasons

It’s your tradition, you have to do it everyday thing, everyday thing…follow the seasons, from one season to another everything changes with the seasons…you have to know your animals, you have to know your birds, your have to know your trees and your material that you work with, you just can’t jump in there and get anything right away, its not there!...the trees…the trees, in certain time of the year, they lose their bark, better for you to work with, now you can take the tree and chop it down and take the bark off it even the bark alone you can make baskets, different coloured baskets, now bark off of them dead trees just like leather…we used make belts out of it, we also made shoulder straps, baskets, sewing baskets, all different kinds, because they’re green you can work with them when they are dried up they’re solid, and then take you take shellac and paint them, then there they’re solid now…ash is the same way.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the changing seasons

After the ash there’s your fiddleheads…you see, muskrats…muskrats comes first, then gaspereaux right on top of that. Muskrat and gaspereaux come together when the gaspereaux come and then right before that the fiddleheads come…the fiddleheads are there and then when the fiddlehead are done…there! there’s your rustic chairs and your baskets, you can go right on through all summer, when you get to July and then you turn…you turn over you make apple baskets and potato baskets, when you get to August then there’s blueberry season, you see, then there’s your potato season, six weeks of each.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the changing seasons

When you get back to end of October, then your trapping season starts again and your hunting seasons. That’s when everybody starts thinking about hard, cold winter and everything has to be made…your snowshoes, your skis, your sleds, your harnesses, your pack baskets. Then, you go trapping. Animals were so plentiful. Wherever you want to go, the river, when you can paddle, when it’s frozen you walk on it, foxes, backwoods there’s only wild cats, martens…but on the riverside it’s otter, mink, muskrats, weasels, everything…seals, yech! they stink…seals and sea dogs, I don’t mind nailing them and scraping them but I wouldn’t scrape them today, good God!

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Seasons of Change Learning Object is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

  • propose a course of action on social issues related to science and technology, taking into account human and environmental
    needs 
  • explain various ways in which natural populations are kept in equilibrium, and relate this equilibrium to the resource limits of an ecosystem 
  • analyse the impact of external factors on an ecosystem 
  • communicate questions, ideas, and intentions, and receive, interpret, understand, support, and respond to the ideas of others in preparing a report about ecosystem change 
  • propose and defend a course of action on a multi-perspective social issue 
  • investigate how artistic and literary expression reflects the following aspects of Canadian identity: landscape, climate, history, people-citizenship, and related challenges and opportunities 
  • analyse the effects of selected geographic factors on Canadian identity: describe where Canadians live and explain why communities are established and grow in particular locations, account for the variations in growth of settlements due to physical and human factors
  • evaluate patterns for preserving, modifying, and transmitting culture while adapting to environmental or social change 
  • evaluate issues concerning the diversity and sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems 
  • analyse the interactions within and between regions 
  • evaluate how physical and human systems shape the features, uses, and perceptions of place 
  • analyse the causes and consequences of human modification of the environment on systems within the environment 
  • apply concepts associated with time, continuity, and change 
  • analyse and compare events of the past to the present in order to make informed, creative decisions about issues 
  • examine the ideas of others in discussion and presentation to clarify and extend their own understanding 
  • construct ideas about issues by asking relevant questions and responding thoughtfully to questions posed 
  • present a personal viewpoint to a group of listeners, interpret their responses, and take others’ ideas into account when explaining their positions 
  • recognize that communication involves an exchange of ideas (experiences, information, views) and an awareness of the connections between the speaker and the listener; use this awareness to adapt the message, language and delivery to the context
  • recognize that oral communication involves physical qualities and language choices, depending on the situation, audience, and purpose
  • demonstrate an awareness of the power of spoken language by articulating how spoken language influences and manipulates, and reveals ideas, values, and attitudes 
  • discuss the language, ideas, and other significant characteristics of a variety of texts and genres 
  • demonstrate an awareness that texts reveal and produce ideologies, identities, and positions 
  • distinguish between climate and weather
  • identify and explain the factors that control climate
  • explain regional variations in climate
  • demonstrate and understanding of underlying principles of climate classification
  • understand the relationship between earth, time and seasons

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans