BRANTFORD – The Mohawk Institute was not the only school for teaching Six Nations children. In fact, history shows there were at least four, all started by the New England Company for the Education and Propagation of the Gospel.
In 1831, the New England Company authorized four schools built for the Six Nations allotting 100 acres for each, granted by the “Indians in council.”
The New England Company formalized its organization around the same time — collecting tithes and offerings from wealthy investors for missionary work in Upper Canada.
In 1832, the first facility — the Mohawk Mechanical School was built on Mohawk Street directly across from the Mohawk Chapel. It was a simple structure with four large rooms. Girls were taught spinning and weaving, while boys were instructed in tailoring and carpentry. There was a separate building for a mechanics shop.
In it’s first year, the Mohawk Mechanical School had 18 students, three of whom were day-schoolers.
Another institution, the Martin Settlement School, located just past Cainsville, boasted 40 students in total but an average attendance of 26.
A designated Tuscarora School, located at the Tuscarora Station on the Southside of Highway 54 near Chiefswood, reported 30 students and an average of 26 students in daily attendance.
An Oneida Settlement school was located near present day Colborne Street at Glennwood and Clara Drive in Brantford — just a short walk from the Mohawk School.
There was also a school located at Onondaga, and one for the Delawares. On each was a schoolhouse and a home for the schoolmaster built.
By 1837 the Oneida schoolhouse was discontinued as Indigenous families left the area.
The New England Company reported to it’s investors on the work they were doing in Upper Canada, saying the Onondaga school did not have a regular group of students at any one time and was only open when there were students, and the Delaware school never remained open at all.
“Though the Onondaga School is not, as has been stated, in regular use, its place is in some measure supplied by a school not very distant, at a place called Martin’s Settlement,” says the report.
Another school was in the works by the NEC at the Johnson Settlement, on the Hamilton-Brantford Road, later called Highway 2. It was estimated that 28 children would be expected to attend there. Former students from the Oneida School were transferred to that institution.
All grants and deeds for the land the schools were build upon, including the Mohawk Institute, were reported by the NEC to have been granted to them by Six Nations Chiefs “For Ever” and were to be drawn up for all school locations.
However, the NEC itself had questions about the legality and the actual ownership of the land on which these schools stood, but found a way around that.
“It may not be easy to determine to whom the church property belongs; it was originally built by subscription, and amongst the subscribers, some Indians were the largest; it has since been repaired at an expense probably greater than its first cost, by the NEC, and to them, the ground on which it stands has been surrendered by a council of the Indians. But as long as this edifice is kept in good order for the purpose of the Mohawk congregation, and as long as the pastor officiating in it is paid for by the NEC, the question of its legal ownership is of no consequence.”
Land on the Grand River Tract was granted to the NEC for Kings College — to be built specifically for the Six Nations as well as pioneer children. This section of land was depicted on old Brant County maps as Kings College land between Brantford and Paris. It was never built by the Company and the land was sold off to private owners as eventually, all other school lands were — except the Mohawk School lands otherwise known as the Mohawk Institute.
An ‘Indian Council’ room was planned for the Mohawk Institute — however its construction was put on hold due to cost restraints. It was never built.