If you came to Nova Scotia in the 19th century to hunt or fish – and there were quite a few who did – you hired a guide. You wanted someone who knew the woodlands and wetlands like the back of their hands. Nine times out of ten that meant a Mi'kmaw guide, someone like James (Jim) Glode (1831-1936).
James Glode was born at Lake Kejimkujik and ranged widely throughout the province over his very long life. He led many expeditions, including one with teen-aged Prince Arthur, Queen Victoria's third son. Arthur later became the Duke of Connaught and Canada's tenth Governor General. For thirty years, on hunts that sometimes lasted six months, Jim Glode guided various British aristocrats. Once he accompanied a group to the plains and mountains of Montana, Oregon and British Columbia. On that trip, Jim Glode met Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
Like many Mi'kmaq in the 19th century, Glode followed a variation on the ancient lifestyle. At one point, he was living in Shubenacadie; at another time at Bear River. Wherever he was, he told stories and passed on knowledge. By the early 20th century, Glode was said to be one of the few who was still able to build a traditional birch bark canoe. He married twice, women whose full names are not known. One gave birth to ten children; the other to sixteen.
James Glode stayed in good health his entire life, but he did go blind and sometimes lived in an imagined, recalled world of lakes and rivers he'd known. Max Basque recalled that when Jim passed a hundred he would sometimes "kneel on his cot, kneel on it for hours, paddling and paddling – in his mind he was somewhere in his canoe. And then he’d get up and drag his cot across the room, get on again, and paddle, paddle. He thought he was portaging the canoe, see?" Gloade spent his final years in Shubenacadie living with his son, Peter, on the Indian Brook Reserve (now Sipekne'katik).