Sounding Thunder

The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow

Brian D. McInnes (Author), Waubgeshig Rice (Foreword)


Francis Pegahmagabow (1889–1952), a member of the Ojibwe nation, was born in Shawanaga, Ontario. Enlisting at the onset of the First World War, he became the most decorated Canadian Indigenous soldier for bravery and the most accomplished sniper in North American military history. After the war, Pegahmagabow settled in Wasauksing, Ontario. He served his community as both chief and councillor and belonged to the Brotherhood of Canadian Indians, an early national Indigenous political organization. Francis proudly served a term as Supreme Chief of the National Indian Government, retiring from office in 1950.

Francis Pegahmagabow’s stories describe many parts of his life and are characterized by classic Ojibwe narrative. They reveal aspects of Francis’s Anishinaabe life and worldview. Interceding chapters by Brian McInnes provide valuable cultural, spiritual, linguistic, and historic insights that give a greater context and application for Francis’s words and world. Presented in their original Ojibwe as well as in English translation, the stories also reveal a rich and evocative relationship to the lands and waters of Georgian Bay.

In Sounding Thunder, Brian McInnes provides new perspective on Pegahmagabow and his experience through a unique synthesis of Ojibwe oral history, historical record, and Pegahmagabow family stories.


Sounding Thunder is invaluable for those working in biographical, historical, Indigenous, military and political studies and the general reader. McInnes skillfully contextualizes his subject as one of Canada’s greatest war heroes as well as a member of his family, community, and Anishinaabe people.”

Brock Pitawanakwat, Assistant Professor, Department of Indigenous Studies, University of Sudbury

"Debwemigad Nimkiig gaye Aadizookanag zhawenimaawaad. Brian McInnes has clearly been blessed by the Thunders and Great Storytellers. With Sounding Thunder he has achieved the perfect balance of personal memoir and scholarly inquiry. He shares with readers the stories that have connected one generation to another and in these cycles we find the truth about living. Dibaajimowinan omaada'oozhinang mii igo aanikoobijige."

Margaret Ann Noodin, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Wisconsin

“More than 20 years in the writing, Brian D. McInnes’s Sounding Thunder is an extraordinary book.”

Tanya H. Lee, Indian Country Today

"Brings complexity and nuance to the story (or stories) of Francis Pegahmagabow’s life.”

Eric Story, Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies

“This uniquely intimate portrait illuminates Francis’s commitment to live in a way that reflected the spiritual values of sharing and respect for life, despite his military record of 378 enemy kills for which he became renowned.”

Allyson Stevenson, Canadian Journal of History

“The recognition of a remarkable Canadian and Nishinaabe hero alone makes this a worthy read. Perhaps more essential is the defense and persistence of Nishinaabe culture through the incorporation of language and stories in this book.”

Jacob C. Jurss, Studies in American Indian Literatures

“We could all benefit from a lesson in the storytelling traditions of McInnes, Wasauksing, and the Ojibwe nation. I know I have. Do yourself a favour: buy this book. Read it, enjoy it, and learn.”

Robert J. Talbot, The Canadian Historical Review


Fred Landon Award, Ontario Historical Society (2018)

About the Authors

Brian D. McInnes is a faculty member in the Department of Education at the University of Minnesota Duluth. A member of the Wasauksing First Nation, Brian is a great-grandson of Francis Pegahmagabow.

Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation.

Table of Contents

Ngii-zaagidimin – We So Loved Each Other
Ch. 1 Stories as a Means of Understanding Life
Thirty Thousand Islands
Ch. 2 Indigenous Life in the Georgian Bay
Nimkiik – The Thunders
Ch. 3 Wind, Rock, and Water: Maps and Names at Wasauksing and Shawanaga
Nishnaabemwin – The Language of the People and the Land
Ch. 4 Language, Culture, and Story
Gchi-Ngig – The Giant Otter
Ch. 5 Learning from Stories
Enawendiying – We Are All Related
Ch. 6 Family
Tkwaans – The Dead Branch
Ch. 7 An Indian at War
Enendaagwak Bmaadziwin – What is Expected of Life
Ch. 8 Community Life
Ndedem Gaa-Giiwed – When My Father Went Home
Ch. 9 The Fourth Day
Gchi-Mishoomisaatig – Grandfather Tree
Ch. 10 Epilogue
Mnidoo – The Spirit

University of Manitoba Press is grateful for the support it receives for its publishing program from the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund; the Canada Council for the Arts; the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism; the Manitoba Arts Council; and the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Programme.