Thursday, 15 December 2016

Part Four of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Her Involvement With Indigenous Issues, 1958-1976

My references to the writings of other people--both indigenous and non-indigenous--do not in any way imply that they share my views on this matter.  The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends or associates.

Part Four - A            Introduction to Jay Peterson's Involvement With Indigenous Issues, 1958 to 1976

In April 2011, I launched not only this blog about me generally, but also my ( which covers my views on indigenous issues.  Some of my posts mention my mother, e.g., the fact that she was the main reason I got connected with the aboriginal "cause."  However, until now, I have said very little on my site about her work in this area.

Part of the reason for this is my views on this topic have diverged substantially from my mother's over the course of the 40 years she has been gone.  In fact, I have become so disillusioned with many aspects of the "cause," that, since about the mid-2000s, I have primarily been on the outside looking in.  There are a few aboriginals who I keep in touch with, who share at least some of my views, but for the most part, I keep my distance from the whole scene.  For further information about my opinions on this, you can check out my blog.

In Part Four--Sections B to E below--I have tried to be as objective as I can about what my mother was doing at the time she was involved.

Part Four - B            Indigenous Visitors to 283 Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario, etc.

According to a biographical sketch my father put together around 1970, my mother "became interested in the plight of Indians* [in 1958] when she found a young teacher from Trinidad helping the Indians** without compensation on his summer vacation, and Canadians themselves not doing it."

Mom frequently went to various aboriginal communities in the London, Ontario area--from Kettle Point to Cape Croker***--and visited with the native women.  Often she would buy their crafts from them, sell the items in town, and then bring the money back to the women.  What resulted was a lifelong friendship with natives on various reserves in Southwestern and Central Ontario and in the London area.

My father shared my mother's enthusiasm for indigenous issues, particularly in connection with environmental stewardship.  He told me that every year, for many years, he gave 5,000 saplings to both Oneida of the Thames and Six Nations--and planted some of them himself.  One year, he said he gave 22,000 to Six Nations.  No wonder his friends there called him the "tree man."  His funeral program included an "Iroquois prayer."

I recall a number of aboriginals who paid visits to our home at 283 Dufferin Avenue In London, Ontario, Canada.  They included people from Six Nations, Cape Croker***, Oneida and other communities.  I have various materials that document my parents' and my involvement during this period.  These materials include guest book entries, correspondence, programs and news clippings.

Our family home was filled with aboriginal crafts, including Mohawk pottery and corn husk mats from Six Nations, plus sweetgrass baskets and silkscreen-printed cards from Cape Croker***.

Jay Peterson in front of 283 Dufferin Avenue, London, Ontario, ca. 1967

Part Four - C            Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada (IEA), ca. 1964-1973, and the Canadian Association in Support of the Native Peoples (CASNP), 1973-1976

My mother was active with the Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada (IEA) from about 1964 to 1973.  G. Allan Clark, the Indian-Eskimo Association executive director, wrote a letter to my father, dated March 6, 1970, in which he extolled the many ways my mother supported the aboriginal cause.  He said "Jay's home" provided support and encouragement for indigenous people, much like the N'Amerind Friendship Centre in London.

Clark also talked about the exhibits she arranged at the Western Fair, to help educate the non-native population regarding native contributions to "Ontario's history and culture."  I remember attending some of these Western Fair exhibits with my mother.  As I recall, aboriginals from different communities, such as Cape Croker*** and Oneida of the Thames, demonstrated their skills, such as sewing intricate beadwork designs.

When the Indian-Eskimo Association (IEA) moved from Toronto to Ottawa in 1973, there was a name change to the Canadian Association in Support of the Native Peoples (CASNP).  My mother continued her advocacy work under the CASNP moniker from 1973 until her passing in 1976.

The Fall 1978 CASNP Bulletin, entitled "On Native Women," was dedicated to my mother.  Joanne Hoople, the CASNP executive director, described my mother as a "selfless worker throughout her adult life. . .who is remembered as someone who inspired others."  Hoople talked about my mother's contribution to the establishment of the N'Amerind Friendship Centre, as well as her work "furthering the objectives of the Indian-Eskimo Association" and then CASNP.

Part Four - D            Interest in Indigenous Art and Symbolism

My mother's B.A. in Art History from the University of Rochester (1941) and her B.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Toronto (1943) heightened her appreciation for those who were creative and artistic.

In addition, her 19th Century Scottish cotter ancestors had instilled in her a deep appreciation for folk art.  In 1949, shortly after she moved to London, she wrote about the importance of folk art.  She described it as the "art of the people," which included many homecrafts, such as weaving, sculpture, toy making and woodcraft.

She said the Industrial Revolution had caused folk arts to die out, but that they should be revived.  I think both her education and her interest in folk arts contributed substantially to her support for indigenous peoples' artistic and creative abilities.

In addition, my mother was interested in symbolism in all its forms, so it is not surprising that she would be fascinated by the aboriginal version of this.  For instance, she was intrigued by the Iroquois creation stories that include the "Turtle."

I am not saying my mother's turtle artwork below represents any indigenous story, but I think it is an example of how her connection with indigenous people heightened her appreciation for the natural world.

Jay Peterson's turtle artwork, ca. 1964-1974
Part Four - E            Native (a.k.a. Indian) Studies Course Instructor at Fanshawe College, ca. 1970-1973

She taught Native (a.k.a. Indian) Studies at Fanshawe College, in London, Ontario, circa 1970-1973.  I have copies of some of the material she helped prepare for this course, including a one-pager entitled "Ways of Wisdom."  Twenty-one aboriginals from different tribes across the country helped her assemble this document.  It includes 11 observations, such as native people were more interested in "BEING than BECOMING."

Some of the course content I have is unsigned and may have been written by others or in collaboration with others.  Aboriginals who I am assuming were guest lecturers for the course also wrote some material that I found in her course files.

However, I know that "Ways of Wisdom" was written by her because I have her handwritten drafts.

Part Four - F            My Comments About My Mother's Involvement with Indigenous Issues

It was difficult for me to write about this topic because, as I said in the introduction to this post, my views on aboriginal issues have changed substantially from my mother's over the past 40 years.  Her experiences spanned an 18-year period, but mine have lasted more than 35 years.

Although I share her view that non-aboriginal people need to be better informed about the history and heritage of indigenous people, my approach is quite different from hers in other respects.  For more information on my views, you can look at my blog.

Part Four - G             Notes

* I realize that some indigenous people prefer that the term Indian not be used, but it was the word often employed at the time my father wrote his biographical sketch of my mother (circa 1970).  In addition, Indian has a specific meaning under the terms of the Indian Act.  See Gibson citation below for further information on this.

Moreover, many aboriginals still call themselves Indian and do not find the term offensive.  See MacBain citation below.

Finally, no legal definition exists for First Nation, although many aboriginals prefer to refer to themselves this way.  See my citation for the Government of Canada's TCPS 2 (2014) - Chapter 9 below.

** My father was referring to the Trinidad teacher "helping the Indians" in two or more aboriginal communities southwest of London.  These communities are now called Chippewas of the Thames, the Munsee Delaware Nation and the Oneida Nation of the Thames settlement.  Note that the first two are reserves, but the latter is a settlement.  For further information on the history and current situation of these communities, refer to the relevant websites listed below.

I found some of the content in the McCallum document (cited below) helpful for preparing the information on Southwestern Ontario aboriginals.

*** Cape Croker has a very complicated history which is beyond the scope of this post.  For further information, please refer to the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation site, which is listed in the citations below.


Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.  Retrieved December 14, 2016 from:

Chippewas of the Thames.  Retrieved December 11, 2016 from:

Gibson, G. (2009).  A New Look at Canadian Indian Policy.  Fraser Institute.  Pages 18-29 discuss the fact that Indian has a specific meaning under the terms of the Indian Act.

Government of Canada (2015, July 7).  TCPS 2 (2014) - Chapter 9 - Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples of Canada.  Retrieved October 18, 2016 from the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE):  On page 21, in endnote #1, there is a reference to there not being a legal definition for First Nation.

Hoople, J. (1978, Fall).  In Memorium: Jay Peterson.  On Native Women: CASNP Bulletin, p. 2.

Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada (2016).  Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada fonds, 1957-1970.  Accession Number 95-006.  Retrieved July 7, 2016 from Trent University Archives:

MacBain, R. (2016).  Their Home and Native Land.  Robert MacBain.  See pages xi-xii for MacBain's explanation as to why he uses the term Indian in his book.  One of the reasons is that the "32 Ojibways, Mohawks and Cree" who he interviewed for the book did not find the "word to be insulting, pejorative or offensive.  They used it all the time."

McCallum, I (1998).  Part 2b - Human Heritage/First Nations: Thames River Watershed.  Retrieved June 30, 2012 from Canadian Heritage Rivers System:

Munsee Delaware Nation.  Retrieved December 11, 2016 from:

Oneida Nation of the Thames.  Retrieved December 11, 2016 from:

Peterson, C.T. (ca. 1970).  Peterson, Jessie Royce (Fleming) - "Jay Peterson."  London, Ontario.  unpublished.

Peterson, J. (1975, March).  Phase Five: Experiencing Equality [seminar, unpublished].  University of Western Ontario, Department of Occupational Therapy.

Peterson, L. (2003, May 10).  Remembering Mom.  London Free Press, p. F3.

Part Three of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Her Involvement With First-St. Andrew's United Church

Disclaimer: My references to the writings of other people do not in any way imply that they share my views on this manner.  The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends, or associates.

Part Three - A            Jay Peterson and First-St. Andrew's (FSA) United Church, London, Ontario, Canada - Introduction

Our family attended First-St. Andrew's (FSA) United Church in London, Ontario.  I know my father was involved with various activities at the church, such as teaching Sunday school, but unfortunately I am not aware of any specifics.

Have more information about my mother's contribution because I have newspaper articles and other documentation.

Part Three - B.1          Jay Peterson's FSA Drawing, 1953

I have my mother's 1953 drawing of First-St. Andrew's in a scrapbook of her artwork and projects covering the circa 1935 to 1955 period.

My mother's father, John Stuart Fleming (1892-1989), wrote "1953 Jessie" on the above artwork.  Jessie was my mother's given name, but Jay was what most people knew her by.

Part Three - B.2          Input Into Symbols on FSA Sanctuary Ceiling, 1955

In 1955, my mother provided input into the symbols that were painted on the FSA sanctuary ceiling.  In 1975, the symbols were "covered with drywall when some plaster fell."  But, in 1999, the sanctuary was refurbished and the symbols were "replaced."

In November 2016, I attended the funeral of an old family friend in the sanctuary of First-St. Andrew's.  It was nice to look up and see that the symbols are still present on the ceiling.

Part Three - B.3          FSA Art and Artifact Exhibitions, Late 1950s to Early 1960s

From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Mom helped organize art and artifact exhibitions for FSA.  Some of these exhibitions were described in the pages of the London Free Press.

For example, in November 1962, The FSA United Church Women (UCW) presented a "Visual Worship" exhibition of "religious art," which included works by "well-known artists from London and Toronto."  In addition, members of the congregation, including the UCW, put together diaplays on the topic.  Further, there were a variety of ancient Bibles for attendees to look at.  A photo of the display convenor, Mrs. George Young, and my mother, the art-coordinator, examining the Bibles, appeared in both the London Free Press and the United Church Observer.

In November 1963, my mother was one of two art co-convenors of the FSA-UCW "Religious Art and Artifact" exhibition held at the church.  London Free Press columnist, Lenore Crawford, said the collection was "fascinating and worth hours of study.

My mother was involved with other programs and projects at the church, so what I have mentioned above is just a sampling.

Part Three - B.4           FSA Memorials, 1976 and 2007, and the 2007 Celebration of My Parents' Lives

The Very Rev. Angus J. MacQueen (1912-2008) was the First-St. Andrew's minister from 1951 to 1964.  He kept in touch with my parents after he moved on to other ministry duties in Toronto.  On December 19, 1976, he returned to First-St. Andrew's to give my mother's eulogy.

In his eulogy, Rev. MacQueen described my mother as a "very special kind of person, full of courage, goodness and kindness."  Four qualities stood out for him: her sincerity, selflessness, openness, and her encouragement of others.  I agree with Rev. MacQueen's assessment.

In the late 1970s, my father, Charles T. Peterson, moved to Duncan, British Columbia, but when he returned to London in 1997, he started attending First-St. Andrew's again.  His memorial was held there, April 4, 2007, with Rev. Dr. David McKane officiating.  Rev McKane was the FSA minister from 2002 to 2010.

On May 27, 2007, I held a celebration of my parents' lives in Proudfoot Hall, in the basement of FSA.  The celebration included binders of archival material, display boards full of photos, and readings by family, friends and associates.  The approximately 53 people who attended provided me with lots of positive feedback.


Crawford, L. (1963, November [2?]).  Religious art in Canada on the move.  London Free Press.

First-St. Andrew's United Church.  First-St. Andrew's United Church/FSA History.  Retrieved November 27, 2016 from:

First-St. Andrew's United Church (2016, November 27).  History of our Sanctuary Space.  Retrieved November 27, 2016 from:

London Free Press (1962, November 2).  Ancient Bibles Displayed at UCW Exhibit.  London Free Press.

London Free Press (1962, November [2?]).  First-St. Andrew's UCW: Religious Art Collection Replaces Bazaar Project.  London Free Press.

Peterson, C.T. (ca. 1970).  Peterson, Jessie Royce (Fleming) - "Jay Peterson."  London, Ontario.  unpublished.

Peterson, L. (2003, May 10).  Remembering Mom.  London Free Press, p. F3.

United Church Observer (1962, December).  Ancient Bibles displayed.  United Church Observer.

Part Two of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - More Child-Rearing Information

Disclaimer: My references to the writings of other people do not in any way imply that they share my views on this manner.  The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends or associates.

Part Two - A            Jay Peterson's Shoulder Bag Carrier (Babi-Toter)

My mother not only invented the baby seat mentioned in Part One of Four of this series, she also created a shoulder bag carrier for infants.  This carrier was also called the "Babi-Toter."  Below is a 1953 photo of my father, Charles T. Peterson, with my brother, Stu Peterson, in the toter.

Charles T. Peterson, with Stu Peterson in toter, 1953

In May 1959, Chatelaine published an article about my mother's baby seat and shoulder bag carrier, entitled "Babies are meant to be near you."  This article, by Kae McColl, included a 1958 photo of my mother vacuuming, with my brother, Don Peterson, at her side in the toter.

My mother said in the Chatelaine article that she designed the chair and the carrier to keep her children close beside her.  I suspect she said this because I was the oldest of her four children and was notorious for taking off as soon as her back was turned.  Below is a photo of one-year old me, peering into the floor-level windows of an apartment building down the street from our home at 283 Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario, Canada.

Leith Peterson "eavesdropping" on neighbours, 1953

Part Two - B            Jay Peterson's Babi-Buoy Invention and Banana Box Swing Adaptation

Part Two - B.1          Babi-Buoy

I do not know when my mother invented the Babi-Buoy, but she had definitely done so with the arrival of her fourth child, my brother Don Peterson, in 1958.  As she explained below, "it is not always easy to support a riggly [sic] baby and give him a bath."  [Spelling alert: she should have put "wriggly," not "riggly."]

Jay Peterson explaining reason for creating Babi-Buoy, ca. 1958

Her Babi-Buoy was a "small metal upside down toboggan covered with foam plastic (which can be used in bath or sink)."

Jay Peterson explaining the Babi-Buoy, ca. 1958

Part Two - B.2          Banana Box Swing

Below is a circa 1958 photo of my brother, Stu Peterson, and I enjoying the elevated view in a banana box swing.

My mother probably got the idea for this swing from looking at a photo of people swinging in what appears to be banana boxes.  She wrote "Algerian" below the photo, so presumably the photo was taken in Algeria.

Leith Peterson and Stu Peterson in banana box swing, ca. 1958

Part Two - C            How Jay Peterson Got Her Ideas for Her Baby Chair and Baby-Toter

Mom acknowledged that she got her ideas for both the chair and the babi-toter, from researching how women had carried their children throughout the ages.  Her inspiration for the baby seat included devices used by the Hupas of Northern Calfiornia and the Ostiaks of Central Russia.

The creative spark for her baby-toter partly originated from her examining an over-the-shoulder carrier made by mothers in the Dodecanese island complex of Greece.  She also got design concepts from those used by Inuit, Cree, Korean, Guatemalan, Laplander and Nigerian mothers.

Although my mother looked into patenting her baby chair and babi-toter, she decided against it because she felt a business venture like that could take her away from her parenting duties.  She even provided instructions on how to make the chair and toter in the 1959 Chatelaine article previously mentioned.  I see this as yet another example of my mother "painting us all into it," as explained in Part One of Four of this series.  She saw her inventions as part of a timeless continuum of mothers taking care of their children in the best way they knew how.


May, J. (1958, November 6).  "Necessity Mother of Invention."  London Free Press.

McColl, K. (1959, May).  Babies are meant to be near you.  Chatelaine, pp. 108-109.

Peterson, C.T. (ca. 1970).  Peterson, Jessie Royce (Fleming) - "Jay Peterson,"  London, Ontario.  unpublished.

Part One of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Recent Examples of Her Legacy Being Acknowledged

Disclaimer: My references to the writings of others do not in any way imply that they share my views on this manner.  The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends or associates. 

Parts One to Four of This 40th Anniversary Series - Overview

It never ceases to amaze me that, even though my mother, Jay Peterson (1920-1976), has been gone 40 years as of December 15, 2016, her legacy lives on in numerous ways.  In the course of her relatively short life, she touched the lives of many, and continues to hold a place in the hearts of scores of people who knew her.

Jay Peterson, ca. late 1960s

Am dividing up this topic into four separate posts as follows:

• Part One of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Recent Examples of Her Legacy Being Acknowledged

• Part Two of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - More Child-Rearing Information

• Part Three of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Her Involvement With First-St. Andrew's United Church

• Part Four of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Her Involvement With Indigenous Issues, 1958-1976

Part One - A          Introduction

Jay Peterson, ca. 1945
Friend Colleen Thibaudeau (1925-2012) remembered mainly my mother's "hands skillful and reaching out to us all/[S]he saw so clearly the picture that was intended and painted us all into it."  Yes, indeed, my mother did such a good job of painting us all into it, that 40 years later, her intention is still getting recognition.
Part One - B            Recent Examples of Jay Peterson's Legacy Being Acknowledged

In the last six months alone, there have been four instances of my mother's initiatives being re-discovered or acknowledged.

Part One - B.1           My Mother's Circa 1960's Paintings of Children

In August 2016, my cousin John Tinker sent me (via my brother Stu Peterson) three of my mother's circa 1960s paintings that had originally been on the wall of my father's periodontal office at 281 Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario, Canada.

When my father retired and cleared out his office in the late 1970s, he cut the paintings out of the wall and had them individually framed.  All the paintings depict children engaged in various activities.  They were likely inspired by my mother's busy life raising four children.

I discuss the two I have had for some time in my May 11, 2013 post entitled "Jay Peterson (1920-1976) - Examples of Her Art, ca. 1939-1961."  This post can be located by clicking on the "Jay Peterson" label in the right sidebar.

Out of the three I have recently acquired, I have chosen the one below--of the three girls holding hands--to share in this post because I think it is a concrete example of my mother painting us all into it.

Jay Peterson's ca. 1960s painting of three girls
Part One - B.2           The Creation of the Apple Butter Marionettes at Leith, Ontario. Summer 1965

My brother, Stu Peterson, mailed me a family scrapbook, in August 2016, which contains photos and other memorabilia from the 1960s to 1970s.  In there, I found a Polaroid photo that my mother took, in August 1965, which showcases the creation of the Apple Butter marionettes at the Peterson summer residence in Leith, Ontario, Canada.  To see this photo, and to learn more about my mother's connection with Apple Butter, go to the September 1, 2016 post, entitled "Apple Butter Off to the Western Fair Summer 1965."

Below is a screenshot of my mother's photo in the post. September 1, 2016 post screenshot

Part One - B.3           Museum London Acquired Second Baby Chair ("Peter Perch")

Shortly after I received my brother Stu's parcel in August 2016, I learned that a second version of my mother's baby chair had been acquired, in June 2016, by Museum London, from Catherine McEwen,  In June 2005, Museum London acquired the first chair from Ed (Ted) Bartram.  The Museum has decided to keep both chairs because they have different characteristics.

For more information about the chair, please see the "Peter Perch" section of my May 4, 2012 "Jay Peterson (1920-1976)" post (click on the Jay Peterson label in the right sidebar to find it).  As explained in this post, the chair was initially called the "Babi-Sitter," then the "Portable Baby Seat," but most people who remember the chair refer to it as the "Peter Perch."

Below is a 1958 photo of my brother, Don Peterson, in the baby chair, in the Peterson family kitchen at 283 Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario.  (Our home was next door to my father's office at 281 Dufferin--his office is mentioned in B.1 above).

Don Peterson in "Peter Perch," 1958

The Service League of London sold the chair--in a $6 kit--from 1958 to 1967.  In 1966, the League made $3,000 on the sale of the chair alone.

Part One - B.4           Christmas Card Featuring My Mother's Artwork in 2016 Ivey Family London Room Christmas Display

The fourth and final recent example is that my Christmas card, which features my mother's circa 1950 artwork, will be on display in the Ivey Family London Room of the London Public Library during the 2016 Christmas season.

Since 2010, I have incorporated my mother's artwork into Staples Copy and Print Christmas card templates, and have distributed them to family, friends and associates.  Consequently, this latest card is the seventh installment.

The 2016 artwork depicts my Aunt Lillian Fleming (1887-1982), who was the older sister of my maternal grandfather, John Stuart Fleming (1892-1989).  As you can see, the artwork is pasted to a piece of green cardboard, with a red bow adorning the top.  "Lillian" and "28" probably have something to do with the fact that it was a Christmas dinner place card setting.

Jay Peterson's ca. 1950 Christmas artwork

In order for the drawing to fit into the template, I cropped out the backing and wording.  Below is a photo of Ivey Family London Room Library Assistant, Barb Scott, and I standing beside the display on Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

Leith Peterson and Barb Scott, London Room, November 30, 2016

And here is a photo of the card in the display.

Jay Peterson artwork in 2016 Chsitrmas card, London Room

For further information about the other six cards featuring my mother's artwork, that were used from 2010 to 2015, click on the "Jay Peterson" label in the right sidebar and check out "Cards of the Season - The Art of Jay Peterson. . ." December 14, 2013, and "2014 and 2015 Additions to 'Cards of the Season - the Art of Jay Peterson,'" April 11, 2016.


Peterson, L. (2006, May 27).  From party panache to practical.  London Free Press, p. F3.

Peterson, L. (2003, May 10).  Remembering Mom.  London Free Press, p. F3.