On July 28, 2019, members of the Missinaibi Native Off Reserve Community donated $200. to the Municipality of Mattice – Val Côté to maintain the Old Aboriginal Cemetery along the west shore of the Missinaibi River in Mattice. In the photo, we see the Mayor, Marc Dupuis and Jason Topaloff, a member of this Community.
Situated a short distance south of the railroad on the west bank of the Missinaibi River, the cemetery was used from the early 1900 until 1945, then it was gradually abandoned.
According to records kept by the Anglican Church, which managed the cemetery for several years, twenty-one people have been buried between 1919 and 1945, mostly natives, but it is believed that other graves not listed are probably there.
After being more or less abandoned for many years, in the fall of 1987, Laurent Vaillancourt, following a site visit with Fred Neegan, sent a series of photos and a site plan to the municipality, prompting the Municipal Council to undertake the restoration of this historic site.
Photos by Laurent Vaillancourt in the fall of 1987, before restoration.
During the summers from 1989 to 1991, work totalling approximately $26,000 and financed by Nord Aski, the provincial government (Environmental Youth Project) and the municipality, under the supervision of Fred Neegan, allowed for clearing the site, build fences around several burials and around the perimeter, erection of a cross, a bronze plaque listing the known dead and two signs identifying the site at the entrance of the parking lot and along the river for canoeists, an access path and parking space for visitors.
The inauguration of the restored site took place October 5, 1991.
In 1996, Fred Neegan was honored by the Ontario Heritage Foundation for his dedication to the restoration of this historic site; his sister Clara who died March 8, 1945 at age 23 and his brother Lawrence who died June 2 of that year at the age of 18, were the last two people buried in this cemetery before it was abandoned.
Thanks to a new financial assistance from Nord Aski obtained under the Local Initiatives Contributions program, the municipality plans to conduct further work on the site that would include the replacement of the main cross and individual crosses, fences around the graves and perimeter.