Why Read the Book

Scratchings takes a fresh and lively approach to aboriginal-white relations in Ontario over several centuries by examining a particular Six Nations (of Iroquois) family by the name of Davis to which the author is surprised to find he is related. Far more “white” families with long connections to Canada might tell the same story, if they only knew. Many don’t. Including perhaps the reader of this.

Scratchings presents, in a very frank way, the various issues and the historical settings through portraits of individuals rather than as categories or stereotypes. The author also comes, very slowly, to the realization that his own personal experience illuminates, in a quite unexpected way, his understanding of the prejudice that arose within his own family and presumably others.

Scratchings should appeal in particular to:

1. Readers curious about their own possible aboriginal heritage, and in particular researchers of the Six Nations Davis family of Onondaga. The author includes considerable information about the Six Nations and their history, and about the techniques he used. Other names of interest are Burr (East Gwillimbury), Ferguson (Uxbridge), O’Riley and variants and Decker (Brant County).

2. Readers of the memoir genre, who might want to look back, with the author, upon the late 1940s/1950s in Ontario.

3. Persons interested in Canadian social history especially as it shows the impact that the past can have on us as individuals today.


Although Scratchings was written for the general reader, and is cast as a story, it was researched over a nine year period, and has an extensive bibliography. Scratchings should therefore also engage academic historians as well as professional genealogists interested in aboriginal genealogy.