Punamu’kwati’jk: Salmon Place

It has been the Mi’kmaq who have inhabited these lands, for at least 11,000 years if we are to base settlement on radiocarbon dating and archaeological remains (such as the site near Debert).

No discussion on the deinstitutionalization of Dartmouth can occur without recognition of, without reflection on, the colonization of Miꞌkmaꞌki, part of the Wabanaki Confederacy, the ongoing genocides by European Settlers, a region that had its own people, culture, and system of governance, pre-contact.

For an idea of what the region looked like geographically and climactically since glacial times, check this out.

The following is a sample of some of the records pertaining to the period before British colonization but after first contact of French and Mi’kmaq people.


No mention of Punamu’kwati’jk (sometimes spelled Ponamogoatitjg, pronounced “Boon-a-mog-waddy”, meaning Salmon place, later Dartmouth), but there is a reference to Chebouctou, which would’ve been located somewhere in the general vicinity of Dartmouth.

Many interesting details on the other Mi’kmaq settlements of Sipekne’katik (later Halifax and Hants counties).

From: “Recensement général du pays de la Cadie”, General census of the country of Cadie

The census of 1686 notes a population of 36 for Chebouctou.

“One man, one woman, one male child – 7 Mi’kmaq men, 7 Mi’kmaq women, and 19 Mi’kmaq children, 36 souls in total. One house, 7 Mi’kmaq cabins, 3 guns, one-half acre of improved land.”

“The author (of the census) is undoubtedly de Gargas, who goes into considerable detail, naming 49 places, giving a list of each town and village in Acadie, and under more minute headings than the Census of Meulles. Seven folio leaves from 1685-1686, written on both sides”

Map: Circa 16??

A notation of “G” is listed for Dartmouth Cove on this map

Autrer Riviere qui va aussy au mines

“other river that goes to Mines” (Minas Basin).

Map: Circa 16??

“marigot au navire a pa quinet”

According to the ‘Dictionnaire de la langue française (Littré) Tome 3 (Hachette,Paris,1873);

“marigot” is defined as “Courir au marigot, aller au marigot, se dit, parmi les pêcheurs de maquereau, de l’action de ceux qui se retirent dans quelque endroit poissonneux, y pêchent pour eux, mangent leur poisson et se reposent.”

“To run to the backwater, to go to the backwater, says to himself, among the mackerel fishermen, the action of those who retire to some fish-bearing place, fish for them, eat their fish, and rest.

In other words, “a place where the ship rested to fish mackerel”

Map: Circa 16??

“ou il y a un petit navire sur le chantier abandonne”

“Where there is a small ship on an abandoned construction site”

Map: Circa 16??

This map of Chibouctou places it on the eastern side of the harbor, the Dartmouth side, perhaps near the route to Minas Basin, the Shubenacadie river, as described in the first map above.

This map shows eight dwellings, perhaps significant because it lines up with the number of buildings noted in the Acadian census of 1687 above.

Map: Circa 1737

No notations this time, but there are two marks, the first in the same general vicinity as the buildings on the map above – again, on the eastern side of the harbor.

A second mark further inland is perhaps cartographic evidence of context gleaned from “Encounters with tall sails and tall tales: Mi’kmaq society, 1500-1760” by William Wicken, where he mentions a somewhat permanent community located “five leagues from the mouth of the Shubenacadie River, towards Minas basin.”

Perhaps the second, larger mark is this inland location, present-day Portobello.

Map: Circa 1746

What appears to be two symbols for structures, again on the Eastern side of the harbor.

Map: circa 17??

A LOT of text here and detail on the Chebucto settlement that seems to indicate the land with crops. We are not experts in 17th century French but attempted our best to transcribe and translate with some online tools such as U Chicago’s period French dictionaries. (http://artfl-project.uchicago.edu/…/dictionnaires-dautrefois)
Rough, but here it is:

“le port de chibouctou la plus belle reconnaissance du la monde est celle du port de chibouctou par la montagne l’en sombre qui estant fort haute en est dautant plus facille a distinguer son entree est nord 1/4 nord est et sud 1/4 sud ouest. il faut extremement ranger la coste du ouest jusques a ce que vous aye’s ouvert deux petits ilets en maniere de grave qui tienne a’la grand isle que vous bourrées apres quoy vous a’la mouille
a une demie port ce de canondeld nord et sud d’une petite isle toutte ronde qui pavois au fond de la baye. pour aux qui viennent du coste do ouest et qui veuelent donner dans chibouctou il faut bien qui le donne de garde d’approcher de l’isle lensemble accouse des roches et basser sourdes qui sont a l’entour de c’ette isle a un lieue et demie ou deux la pesche est fort bonne partout a l’entree”

What we could translate: “The port of chibouctou, the most beautiful view in the world is that of the port of chibouctou on the mountain in the dark, which is very high making it easier to distinguish… its entrance is north 1/4 north east and south 1/4 south west… you have to put away the west coast until you have opened two small islands… …the fishing is very good everywhere at the entrance”

“Mi’kmaq Treaties on Trial: History, Land, and Donald Marshall Junior”
William Wicken
https://books.google.ca/books?id=0MEQyYggQE8C&dq=Ponamogoatitjg&source=gbs_navlinks_s&fbclid=IwAR1fvPqpy3Kd2E28joa5daow1eH-mTA2cL5qrEEBuv0qBYu2Ot8GHBjZSOo  (page 174)