Gertrude Bernard was born in Mattawa, Ontario to a Mohawk Iroquois family on June 18, 1906. She grew up a strongly independent woman and something of a tomboy.
When Gertrude was 19, she met Grey Owl, then age 37, a trapper. He invited her to accompany him to his traplines. They married shortly afterward in an Anishinaabeg ceremony.
Anahareo encouraged Grey Owl to stop trapping and publish his writings about wilderness life. In Pilgrims of the Wild (1934), Grey Owl recounts how his young Iroquois wife, by saving the lives of two beaver kits and raising them, led him to change his way of life and to work for the protection of wildlife.
The couple split up in 1936. Grey Owl died in 1938, a best-selling author. After his death, it was revealed that he was not part-Apache as he had claimed, but an Englishman named Archibald Stansfeld Belaney.
In 1940 Gertrude, using the name Anahareo that Grey Owl had given her, wrote a book called My Life With Grey Owl. In 1972 she wrote the best-seller, Devil in Deerskins: My Life With Grey Owl, in which she denied having known Grey Owl's true origins. She said she had been hurt to discover his deception.
Over the 50 years following her separation from Grey Owl, she continued to be active in the conservation and animal rights movement.
In 1979 Anahareo was admitted into the "Order of Nature", of the Paris-based International League of Animal Rights in 1979. She was elected a Member of the Order of Canada in 1983. Anahareo died in 1986 and will always be remembered as a legend of Mattawa Voyageur Country. Anahareo – Gertrude Bernard Author, environmentalist and recipient of the Order of Canada
Dr. Saint-Firmin (S. F.) Monestime was a Haitian-Canadian politician and medical doctor, who was the first Black Canadian ever elected mayor of a Canadian municipality.
Born in Port-au-Prince in 1909, Monestime studied rural medicine and wrote three books on the subject.
He moved to Quebec City in the 1940s. After upgrading his medical training he planned a move to Timmins, Ontario to set up a medical practice, but when he stopped in Mattawa en route, he was convinced by a restaurant owner to stay in that town and set up practice here instead. He married Zena Petschersky, an Eastern European immigrant whom he met in Ottawa, in 1953.
Monestime practiced medicine in Mattawa until 1964, when he was elected the town's mayor. Except for one year that he took off for personal reasons, he remained the town's mayor until his death. Monestime was very active with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and served as its national director. He considered running federally for the party, and in 1971 he ran and lost in a bid for the presidency of the party. A Red Tory, Monestime was attracted to the party because of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights.
Monestime established a nursing home in Mattawa in 1975. His daughter Vala Monestime Belter continues to run the home today. Dr. Monestime December 16, 1909 - October 27, 1977 Doctor and Mayor of Mattawa