Smallpox at the Chaudiere Falls Indian Reserve

Smallpox at the Chaudiere Falls Indian Reserve
Posted on December 14, 2016 | Jason Arbour | Written on December 14, 2016
Letter type:
Blog Post



Author's Note:

Author's Note:

My name is Jason (Rotisken'rakehte) Arbour, Appointed Chief and Legal Representative of Kana:tso Kaniengehaga First Nation. In 1903 my family/band was disbanded from our Indian Reservation and place of origin at Gatineau, Quebec, to date, I have been chosen to raise awareness and respectfully represent our community's legal interest of re-establish our historical rights to our traditional territory at the Chaudiere falls. 


A large percentage of the Canadian population has no historical knowledge that there once existed an Indian Reservation at the sacred Chaudiere Falls, that spans the present cities of Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. Historically the Mohawks of Kana:tso (Floating Pot) did possess an Indian Reservation on their ancestral lands located on the northern shore of the Ottawa river in downtown Gatineau, Quebec. (See link to map of Lower Hull from the 1870's below Dr. Malloch's letter)

Dr. Malloch of Ottawa validates the occupation with a statement in his handwritten journals of April 23rd, 1872 regarding the Indian encampment in Hull, Quebec.

Dr. Malloch Wrote to the Honorable the Secretary of the State for the Provinces (Indian Branch): 

" Sir, In accordance with instructions from your department, dated the 20th of February 1872, that I should give professional attendance to the Indians suffering from an epidemic of Smallpox on the northern shore of the Ottawa, I have the honor to report that the outbreak which was of exceedingly severe nature made it's appearance about the first of January previous, in the entire camp there were about thirty individuals some of whom had already suffered from the disease, but upon the present occasion twenty cases existed. Previously to medical attendance being furnished the disease proved fatal in seven cases, and upon the nineteenth of February before treatment could take effect, one additional death occurred.

Many of the sick remaining were in exceedingly dangerous conditions, one-half of whom were at least under the age of twelve years. But the remedial agents, and more especially the dietetic adjuncts, permitted by your department to the furnished, was the greatest of service, and in addition to being exceedingly grateful to the sick gave the liveliest satisfaction to the entire camp. After the twentieth of February, no fatal case occurred, although in many, convalescence was retarded, by rheumatic or pulmonary, complications which without proper treatment would have proven fatal. 

Several cases of ulcerations of the eye ball (cornea) threatened the destruction of the organ, but happily without so serious a termination in any one case.  I continued to pay daily visits to the Indians under treatment for a fortnight and was subsequently able to reduce attendance to two visits a week until the advanced state of convalescence of the only individuals who had not recovered, then rendered further attendance unnecessary. "

Dr. Malloch also enclosed his account of $125.00 for medical supplies and comforts furnished, at the end of his letter.

A PDF of Dr. Malloch's letter can be seen below. It is on file at the National Archives of Canada. 

Some of these historical facts are very painful to discuss. This story can not be romanticized but will leave the reader with many more questions than answers on this historically important topic. I hope this story helps raise readers knowledge of indigenous histories in the National Capital region of Canada.

For more historical facts on the Indian Reservation at the Chaudiere falls, please visit,

​Additional posts on this subject:

About The Author

Tsit-Kanaja Kaniengehaga's picture

My name is Jason (Rotisken'rakehte) Arbour, Appointed Chief and Legal Representative of Kana:tso Kaniengehaga First Nation. In 1903 my family/band was disbanded from our Indian resserve and place of origin at... More