Mis­sion­ary Mo­ments and Tran­sat­lantic Celebrity: The Anishi­naabeg of Up­per Canada

Canada's History - - BOOKS - by Ce­cilia Mor­gan

NOT ONLY DID THESE trav­ellers lay claim to a more fluid, multi-lay­ered per­for­mance of Indi­gene­ity than that of the as­sim­i­lated con­vert, they also as­sessed, com­mented on, and judged Bri­tish so­ci­ety, high­light­ing both its as­sets and its foibles. While Peter Jones shaped the world of the Ojibwe for a va­ri­ety of au­di­ences, he also told his Up­per Cana­dian au­di­ences about Eng­land, re­vers­ing the cus­tom­ary pat­tern of the pe­riod’s travel lit­er­a­ture and nascent ethno­gra­phies in which the colony was brought to the metropole. “I thought you would be glad to hear my re­marks, as an In­dian trav­eller, on the cus­toms and man­ner of the English peo­ple,” he wrote to the Chris­tian Guardian. He found the English gen­er­ally a “no­ble, gen­er­ous minded peo­ple — free to act, and free to think — they very much pride them­selves in their civil and re­li­gious priv­i­leges, in their learn­ing, gen­eros­ity, man­u­fac­ture, and com­merce, and they think that no other na­tion is equal with them in re­spect to these things.” Jones found them very “open and friendly … ready to re­lieve the needs of the poor and needy when prop­erly brought be­fore them.”

He did, though, char­ac­ter­ize the English as very fond of “nov­el­ties” — no na­tion, in fact, was as taken with new things. Here, Jones dis­played an acute aware­ness that his ap­pear­ances in Bri­tain were per­for­mances staged and en­acted be­fore an au­di­ence, part of the theatre of both the mis­sion­ary and the Bri­tish colo­nial worlds. “They will gaze and look upon a for­eigner as if he had just dropped down from the moon: and I have of­ten been amused in see­ing what a large num­ber of peo­ple, a mon­key rid­ing upon a dog, will col­lect in the streets of London where such things may be seen al­most ev­ery­day.” Jones went on to hint at the ten­sions he faced. “When my In­dian name is an­nounced to at­tend any pub­lic meet­ing, so great is their cu­rios­ity that the place is al­ways sure to be filled; and it would be the same if no­tice was

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