Growing up, all Andy Bryce knew about his great-grandfather was that he wrote the first health code in Canada, and he lived in a big house in Ottawa. But that all changed the day Andy opened a box of family memorabilia that his mother had left for him when she died. He discovered that his great-grandfather, Dr. Peter H. Bryce was the Chief Medical Health officer for the Department of Indian Affairs in 1907 when he reported on appalling health conditions in residential schools on the prairies. Bryce’s report was discredited by the department’s chief bureaucrat Duncan Campbell Scott, and Bryce was later relieved of his duties at Indian Affairs. But for the rest of his life, Peter Henderson Bryce would lobby for better conditions for Indigenous people. He went on to write Story of a National Crime – An Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada.
In Finding Peter Bryce, journalist and teacher Andy Bryce traces his great-grandfathers story – from his childhood in rural Ontario, to his mysterious death on a cruise ship in the West Indies. He finds a brilliant and complex man who spoke truth to power and who could also inspire his grandchildren in the wonders of the garden. We are left wondering how many other great stories are to be found stored in cardboard boxes and forgotten filing cabinets.
Peter Bryce and Bryce Family, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society