The surprising connection between 1938 recordings and the Anishinaabe woman who tracked them down

Bimadoshka (Annya) Pucan came across the wax cylinder recordings while researching the War of 1812. After enlisting elders at her home on Saugeen First Nation, she discovered a personal connection to the recordings that she calls "fate".
Bimadoshka (Annya) Pucan and Museum London's regional history curator, Amber Lloydlangston hold a photo of Robert Thompson and Dr. Edwin Seaborn. (Chris dela Torre)

You might call it a strange coincidence, but Bimadoshka (Annya) Pucan calls it fate.

Pucan, a student at Western University, hails from Saugeen First Nation in southwestern Ontario.

In 2011, she stumbled across wax cylinder recordings from the late 1930s. The recordings contain conversations between Dr. Edwin Seaborn, a founder of London's University Hospital who wrote about medicines of various cultures, and Robert Thompson, an Indigenous community leader who lived on Chief's Point reserve near Sauble Beach.

The recordings, which sat untouched for years, were donated to Museum London in 1975. Pucan set out to interpret them with the help of elders in her community.

Dr. Edwin Seaborn recorded his conversations with Robert and Eliza Thompson on wax cylinders. Seaborn was one of the first residents to own a cabin on Sauble Beach, near Thompson's residence. The two bonded over conversations about Indigenous medicine. (Chris dela Torre)

A personal connection

As Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre found out, the recordings are filled with valuable songs and stories to her Anishinaabe heritage. The recordings also struck a personal chord for Pucan in ways she could've never expected.

The recordings are the basis of a new exhibit at Museum London called 'Voices of Chief's Point', on display until September 14.

Have a listen to Chris dela Torre's visit to Museum London to speak to Annya Pucan:

About the Author

Chris dela Torre

Host of Afternoon Drive

Chris dela Torre is the host of Afternoon Drive on CBC Radio One in Southwestern Ontario. He's worked as a host, reporter and producer in several cities across Canada, and has hosted several CBC network programs, such as q, DNTO and The Story From Here.