Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
September 2004

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Oka (Kanesatake)



[This text was originally published in 1907 by the Bureau of American Ethnology as part of its Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. It was later reproduced, in 1913, by the Geographic Board of Canada. The work done by the American Bureau was monumental, well informed and incorporated the most advanced scholarship available at the time. In many respects, the information is still useful today, although prudence should be exercised and the reader should consult some of the contemporary texts on the history and the anthropology of the North American Indians suggested in the bibliographic introduction to this section. The articles were not completely devoid of the paternalism and the prejudices prevalent at the time. While some of the terminology used would not pass the test of our "politically correct" era, most terms have been left unchanged by the editor. If a change in the original text has been effected it will be found between brackets [.] The original work contained long bibliographies that have not been reproduced for this web edition. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]



Oka. A modern village of Iroquois , Nipissing, and Algonkin, on lake of Two Mountains , Ottawa r., near Montreal. Cuoq says oka is the Algonkin name for goldfish or pickerel. The Iroquois name, Kanesatake, signifies 'on the hillside,' from onesata 'slope or mountain side,' ke ' at or on'.


The village was settled in 1720 by Catholic Iroquois, who were previously at the Sault au Récollet, and who numbered about 900 at the time of removal. Soon after they were joined by some Nipissing and Algonkin, who removed from a mission on isle aux Tourtres, the latter place being then abandoned. The two bodies occupy different portions of the village separated by the church, the Iroquois using the corrupted Mohawk language, while the others speak Algonquian. The total number of both was 375 in 1884, and 501 (434 Iroquois, 87 Algonkin) in 1911. In 1881 a part of them removed to Watha (Gibson), Ontario, where they are now established, numbering 130, making the total number at both settlements about 830. For an account of these Indians see Life of Rev. Amand Parent , Toronto, 1888, in which the religious troubles are related from a Protestant point of view.


Return to the Index page of Indians of Canada and Quebec

Source: James WHITE, ed., Handbook of Indians of Canada, Published as an Appendix to the Tenth Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, Ottawa, 1913, 632p., p. 359. See the page for Kanesatake at the Indian Affairs department.


© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College