Memories and lore from the old Grand River Ferry

Before the Chiefswood Bridge was built, Six Nations residents used to take a ferry to cross the Grand River.

And, oh, the memories and sepia-tinged photos are sure to bring out the nostalgia as the community celebrates its past, present and future this month in anticipation of the Bread and Cheese celebrations on the May 24 weekend.

There are a few scarce black and white photos showing Isaac “Ike” Green and Gene Green operating the ferry that are held by family members and housed at the Six Nations Public Library, allowing community members the opportunity to step back in time and reminisce about their memories using the ferry before the bridge became fully accessible in 1984.

There is a bit of lore surrounding the ferry, including some accounts that it sank during the Grand River Champion of Champions Powwow but local historians are unsure of the year.

Local families loved using the ferry to cross the Grand River to visit Chiefswood Park, where the home of famed Mohawk Poetess Pauline Johnson is located.

The ferry used to carry not only human cargo, but vehicles as well. People would either stay in their cars during the crossing or get out to view the scenery of the river.

Some community members are still able to remember their times using the ferry clearly, while others have faint childhood memories.

There are a few photos floating around community family photo albums tinged with that black and white nostalgia showing those memories and we’ve gathered a few for you to enjoy.

The ferry served as Six Nations’s connection to the world on the other side of the river.

It used to cost passengers as little as 10 cents per trip. According to various records on Six Nations, Pauline Johnson wrote a poem about a previous ferry before a new one was launched on Sept. 5,1968.

It was proudly advertised as being built entirely by local labour using steel, at a cost of $16,000.

Six Nations negotiated the installation of the Chiefswood Bridge in the early 80s under the guidance of the late Band Council Chief Wellington Staats, who passed away in 2014.

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