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The Legend of the Great White Pine

An Ojibwa Legend

Those of you that have hiked or driven through the great Ontario Provincial Park that forms most of the Sibley Peninsula and have gazed in wonderment at the magnificent 'White Pines that literally cover the area right up to the Sleeping Giant, may be interested to know that, according to legend, these did not get there by accident.

About two thousand years ago, a tribe of Ojibway Indians lived on the shore of Thunder Bay in the vicinity of Sibley Peninsula and had for their Chief a very wise and much traveled Indian, of great birth.

Golden Eagle, for that was the chieftain's name, at the time of this story, had reached the age of ninety years and was very close to death.

Calling his son to his bedside, the old man took a deerskin bag from under the furs and, placing the bag in his son's hands, softly spoke this message: "Ti-Baki- Enane, my days are few. In this bag you will find many seeds that I have brought from a great distance. Take good care of them and, whenever a new child is born to my people, plant a seed in good earth for it. Soon, great trees will grow from the seeds and my people will build their homes from the wood. They will also build great ships and they will prosper".

"I will do as you wish, my father", answered Ti-Baki-Enane and quietly left the old man to end his days in peace. For years, the young man faithfully planted the seeds whenever a new papoose was born and soon beautiful white pines dotted the land. As they became large enough to bear cones, Ti-Baki-Enane gathered more and more seeds.

One night, while he lay asleep in his tepee, he was suddenly awakened by a strange sound, his tepee seemed to glow with a bright light and there, at the foot of his bed of furs, stood the Spirits of his father and two other Great Chiefs.

The Spirit of Golden Eagle spoke very softly. "My son, you have kept your promise well and we are well pleased. We have come to give you a great duty to perform. Tonight, the greatest Child the world has ever known will be born. Pick the finest seed that you have and go to the highest place and plant it at once. All men will see the tree that springs from it, and wonder ... Farewell, My Son".

Immediately Ti-Baki-Enane arose and, selecting the largest and finest-looking seed, ran to the top of Thunder Hill and there he planted it.

Truly this was a special tree, for it grew three times faster than any other, and in a few years it towered at least five times higher than the White Pines around it. So tall was it that at night the stars seemed to hang from its great boughs.

It soon got the name of the "Great Papoose Tree" and Indians came from miles around to see it and each would hang, a little pair of moccasins, or a child's buckskin shirt and many other little gifts for the children that had lost their parents. Deer and the little animals of the woods would sleep in safety under it and many a lost Indian would find refuge for the night beneath its friendly boughs.

This great and magnificent tree lived for thirty years and then one Friday, it was struck down during one of the terrible storms for which Thunder Bay is noted.

Now, nothing remains of this beautiful White Pine, but the memory of it is kept alive each year as we place the little gifts for our children under the starlit fragrant bough of our own.

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