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Biography & Autobiography Historical

When We Both Got to Heaven

James Atkey Among the Anishnabek at Colpoy's Bay

by (author) Mel Atkey

foreword by Rev Maggie McLeod

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2002
Historical, General, Native American
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2002
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    Publish Date
    Oct 2002
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When We Both Got to Heaven places James Atkey (1805-1868) on the shores of Georgian Bay at the time of treaty negotiations between the First Nations people of the Saugeen, Nawash and Colpoy’s Bay areas, and the Colonial government. A Methodist lay preacher, Atkey leaves the Isle of Wight and arrives at Colpoy’s Bay with his family in 1855. There he takes up the position of teacher for the Anishnaube children of the area.

The great-great-great-grandson of James Atkey, author Mel Atkey engaged in extensive research of both primary and secondary sources. His efforts provide considerable insight into both the influence of Wesleyan Methodism of the time and the background context of the treaty negotiations that ultimately led to the surrender of much of the Saugeen Peninsula for pioneer settlement. People with leadership roles of the past, such as Chief Kegedonce, Kahkewaquonaby (Rev. Peter Jones), Laurence Oliphant and Sir Francis Bond Head, as well as many others, are part of Atkey’s story.

Reverend Maggie McLeod of the Cape Croker United Church provides a thoughtful Foreword. This quite remarkable book is a compelling read for those interested in Ontario history, First Nations history, genealogy and the role of religion at the time of European settlement.

About the authors

Mel Atkey has been writing musicals ever since he was in high school in his native Vancouver. He was a finalist for the Musical of the Year competition in Aarhus, Denmark, and his work has been short-listed for the Vivian Ellis Prize, the Quest for New Musicals, the Ken Hill Prize and Musical Stairs. His first musical, Shikara, was produced on radio in Canada. A single was released by singer Janice Jaud of one of the songs, "Far Away," and received airplay across Canada and the United States.

His book When We Both Got to Heaven: James Atkey Among the Anishnabek at Colpoyís Bay tells the story of his ancestor James Atkey, who came to Georgian Bay from the Isle of Wight in 1854 as a teacher to the Ojibwa. It was published by Natural Heritage Books, Toronto, in October 2002. Broadway North: The Dream of a Canadian Musical Theatre will be published by Natural Heritage in October 2006.

Mel Atkey's profile page

Rev Maggie McLeod's profile page

Other titles by Mel Atkey