Mitchif vs. French vs. English

terry glavin transmontanus at GULFISLANDS.COM
Sat Mar 6 22:54:43 UTC 1999

great little thread here. i read recently that gaelic was the second
language in canada, before french, around the turn of the century, and
during laurier's administration (i believe it was laurier's) there was a
private members' bill in the house of commons, which failed only barely,
that would have established gaelic with english and french as an official

mike refers to samadlin's wife (donald maclean's wife) as chilcotin. can't
remember her name, but i was sure she was northern shuswap or southern

also, mike wrote: "One hopes that many of those natives with
Irish or Scottish ancestry did some digging on that side of their "tribal"
heritages.........rather than be ashamed of or negative towards a
part-British ancestry, perhaps....."

 A friend of mine is a nuu-chah-nulth hereditary chief, a young guy -
wawmeesh. although he comes from nuu-chah-nulth "royalty" (my
characterization) on both sides of his family, he also had an irish
grandpappy, and wawmeesh continues to put me to shame on matters of irish
history (i'm from an irish immigrant family and have claimed to know a thing
or two about these things). wawmeesh is particularly interested in the
cultural, legal and constitutional parallels between the pre-revolutionary
period in ireland and the present situation in b.c. today (i.e. the "indian
land question" in law having descended directly from the "irish land
question," the debates in both early-20th-century ireland and late 20th
century b.c. between the "pro-treaty" and "anti-treaty" factions, etc.)
lately, wawmeesh has taken to concluding his letters to me with "Tiocfaidh'
ar' la'," which is Irish gaelic for: Our Time Will Come.

 and god willing, it will.


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Cleven <ironmtn at BIGFOOT.COM>
Date: 06 March 1999 13:27
Subject: Re: Mitchif vs. French vs. English

>At 05:03 PM 3/6/99 -0400, The McDonald Family wrote:
>>At 12:34 PM 3/6/1999 -0800, you wrote:
>>>Anyway, the mixing of peoples and tongues is what brought about the
>>>(and its Michif "cousin") into being, so this to me is on-topic.  It's a
>>>pity that there weren't Gaelic and Erse words added to the Jargon's mix,
>>>considering the amount of Celt-native intermarriage in the early
>>Really? That seems rather surprising, considering the prominent role that
>>Scots and Irish generally played in the expansion of the British Empire. I
>>seem to remember anecdotes about British traders assimilating fairly
>>into the pre-existing societies of the Pacific Northwest.
>Yes, they did - but none of their ancestral languages did, apparently,
>although there was a time at the turn of the century when Vancouver must
>have been part Scots-speaking (what I mean is that Scots must have been
>spoken in a lot of bars and private saloons).  It's very true that the
>British traders (mostly Scots and Irish and some Welsh) assimilated well
>into local society for years before the railway, even moreso before the
>gold rush.  Nearly all "took wives according to the custom of the country",
>that is, in accordance with native law and tradition, and some notable
>"half-breed" families resulted (including the "Wild McLean Boys", sons of
>famous trader Donald McLean and his Chilcotin wife (Klymtedza? - Terry?).
>Governor Douglas' wife was native, and I think even Seymour kept a "country
>wife" before importing to the colony his British betrothed.  There was an
>article a while back about the tragedy of the "country wives", many of whom
>were disowned and disenfranchised as the colony and early province became
>"more civilized" and their former mates turned to marry imported wives.
>Nearly all the major figures of early Gastown - from Gassy Jack up to the
>mill-owners - had native wives, and this is pretty much true elsewhere in
>BC until the coming of the railway in the 1880s.
>All the main British figures in BC were by and large Scots or Irish (or
>Welsh) - even if they were American in character.  "Anglo-Saxon" is a term
>bandied about rather loosely to describe "British Canadian" culture, but in
>reality it was a Scots-dominated effort with notable contributions by other
>Britons, the English less so than the Irish or Welsh; this was apparently
>extremely so during the great boom of the '00 decade in Vancouver, which
>was said to have more than a passing reference to Glasgow and Edinburgh
>because of all its wrought-iron work (afterwards melted down for bullets
>for the Great War).  The Gaelic presence in BC remains strong even today
>with a large expatriate population; I grew up used to hearing Scottish
>burrs and other "imperial" accents within the civil service and education
>system and local neighbourhoods in BC (the recent death of the most notable
>of BC's Scottish voices, one Jack Webster, duly noted).  Welsh names are so
>common as to be mistaken for English ones, also.  So despite the early
>mingling of the exiled Brits with the natives, later generations retained
>their distinctiveness; although the tradition of the highland games goes
>back to the earliest days of the province, and is very much part of the "BC
>identity" for many small towns.  One hopes that many of those natives with
>Irish or Scottish ancestry did some digging on that side of their "tribal"
>heritages.........rather than be ashamed of or negative towards a
>part-British ancestry, perhaps.....
>Mike Cleven
>ironmtn at
>The thunderbolt steers all things.
>                           - Herakleitos

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