Covering centuries, decades in the making: new book details the history of Moose Cree

The oral histories of elders have been written down and collected in a new book detailing the nomadic past of the Moose Cree people.

Book started as part of an environmental assessment for a hydro dam project

This photo of a Cree family on the cover is one of many archival pictures in the new book The People of the Moose River Basin. (Moose Cree First Nation)

Agnes Corston wasn't sure she would live long enough to see her memories and stories in print.

The Moose Cree elder is one of several whose oral history of the James Bay community was recorded over the past few decades for the new book The People of the Moose River Basin.

It started in the early 1990s as part of an environment assessment agreement for a hydro dam planned for the Mattagami River and was just recently released.

Corston's stories stretch back much further to how her family lived off the land when she was a child, spending most of the year in bush camps plucking the geese her father shot and saving the feathers for pillows.

"Those were the happiest times of my life," she says. 

"It will give them the story of how we used to live a long time ago." 

Stan Louttit, one of the five co-authors, says the book will be provided to James Bay schools, but he's also hoping to get it into the hands of students in cities and towns that now stand in traditional Moose Cree territory.

"Provide an Indigenous history that is not really well known," he says. 

"Hopefully it's going to provide a real opener to learn that before these towns existed in the north, there was an Indigenous presence here."


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to