© Lunenburg County Historical Society 2012
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The First Nations Mi’kmaq spent the winters in the forest. They hunted animals there for food and clothing, and they used the plants and trees for medicinal purposes. They used the river for transportation and fishing, and in summer they travelled down it to their summer camps on the shore, where they fished in the ocean and along the beaches. They also used the ocean for travel.
Two separate native locations are identified on Champlain’s map of the Port of LaHave, one on the east bank of the river, and one on the west side of the Petite Rivière, where an Indian burial ground has been identified. The road from the east side of the LaHave now known as Indian Path was identified on an early map (Bellin, 1744) as the portage route between LaHave and Merligueche.
The native people acted as guides for the early French settlers, were on friendly terms with them, and taught them some of their techniques for survival in the harsh winters including remedies for scurvy. Their ability to travel by canoe in summer and with snowshoes in winter was passed on to the newcomers. The furs, particularly beaver pelts, which they collected in the forest during the winter were traded with the French for goods from Europe. The French brought European weapons, technology, trinkets, disease and alcohol to the Mi’kmaq. They also brought Catholic religious education, which was at least partially accepted, and in Razilly’s time the natives of the LaHave area accepted the political domination of the French, and lived at peace with them. The French employed the natives in various ways as guides, interpreters and for other services.