Highlighting a piece of Brantford-Brant history
Joseph Brant’s tomahawk in the Brant Museum and Archives collection.
Brant News photo
Brant Historical Society executive director John Robertson, right, shows Joseph Brant’s tomahawk to John Ayres during a reception late last year at the Brantford Golf and Country Club.
Brant Historical Society
FOR BRANT NEWS
The Brant Museum and Archives is the operating arm of the Brant Historical Society. We hold over 60,000 artifacts and records for the people of Brant region.
Some of those artifacts are common, almost mundane household items like irons and sewing machines, while others are far more exotic.
His Worship Mayor John Spence (1915 to 1916) was an avid letter and autograph collector. Thanks to him, we have a variety of royal signatures and even the account of a court martial in 17th century Holland.
Our most outstanding pieces are always the ones which best tell a story. Some of them speak as powerfully as any talisman throughout time.
A talisman can evoke powerful memories and emotions. Some embody the collective memory of a people, some resonate with the zeitgeist of a specific time and some draw a portrait of a person of extraordinary presence. Some do all of the above.
The tomahawk pictured here is not in and of itself particularly striking as a decorative or ceremonial work. It is, in fact, rather plain. No beadwork or engraving, merely a hollowed out shaft of wood with the bore connected to a tobacco bowl and the iron blade. Really quite a work-a-day kind of item you’d find all around this area during the late 1700s.
It is, though, an ordinary object once owned by a quite extraordinary man – Joseph Brant, Thayendanegea.
“Brant from his red house Wellington Square” was written on its shaft by F. Ghent, Burlington’s postmaster, who was then in possession of it. His wife, Margaret, inherited his possessions (and his job) upon his death in 1943 and soon after gave the tomahawk to the Brant Museum.
The journey from the red house in Wellington Square to Burlington and back to Brantford is a mysterious one that may never be fully known or understood, but the circle closed and a piece of Joseph Brant came home.
Visit www.brantmuseum.ca for more information about the Brant Historical Society.