Mohawk Institute Residential School

The Mohawk Institute in 2013

The Mohawk Institute Residential School was a Canadian Indian residential school in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. The School operated under the Government of Canada from July 1, 1885 to June 27, 1970. Prior to 1885 the Anglican Church of Canada was involved in the operation of a school and residential school in the same location. Enrollment at the school ranged from 90 to 200 students per year.


Mohawk Institute ca.1932

It was operated by the Anglican Church of Canada from its founding as the "Mechanics' Institute" (a day school for boys on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve) in 1828 until 1969, when control was handed over to the Canadian federal government.[1] The Mohawk Institute was established on 350-acres of farm land, all of which were or had been part of the land of Six Nations at some point.[2]

In 1831, the school began to function as a residential school for boys, and starting in 1834, girls were taken in as boarders as well.[1] Children from Six Nations were sent there, along with some from the New Credit, and Moraviantown, Sarnia, Walpole Island, Muncey, Scugog, Stoney Point, Saugeen, Bay of Quinte and Kahnawake reserves.

While the school was originally nearby the Mohawk village, in 1837 the colonial government of Upper Canada ordered Six Nation residents to resettle south of the Grand River, kilometres from the school.[1] Between 1854–1859, the building was destroyed by fire and rebuilt a few hundred metres from its original location.[1] Around the same time, the school acquired more land, and farming became a prominent part of life for children at the school. In 1885, the year after the Indian Act made enrollment compulsory for Status Indian children under 16,[3] the school began to accept students from reserves beyond Six Nations.[1]

On April 19, 1903, the main school building was again destroyed by fire. On May the barns of the Mohawk School were also destroyed by fire. On June 24, 1903 the playhouse which had been serving as the boys' dorm since the main fire in April was also burned down. All three of these fires have been attributed to students at the school.[4] The school buildings were rebuilt the following year. The new school building contained separate boys and girls wings, principal's and teachers quarters, as well as administrative offices.[1] This new school building was designed to hold 150 students and also included the development of barns, stables, and other agriculture related out buildings.[2]

In 1922, the management of the school was formally taken over by the Canadian government, though the Anglican church retained ownership, and the agreement required that the principal be Anglican.[1] A chapel was added to the school in 1930.[2] By 1955, enrollment reached 185 children.[1]

In 1963, farming was discontinued as the children were now given a full day of education without requiring their manual labour.[1] Enrollment decreased as schools were built in reserve throughout Ontario, and in 1970, the school was closed. Six Nations assumed ownership of the building the following year.

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