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Some Notes on Aboriginal Settlement in Eastern Ontario by Fraser Laschinger



The so-called pre-history period of human habitation in this area of Ontario starts with the Clovis culture from just after the ice age 10,000 years ago to 7,000 years ago. They were succeeded by the Plani culture, who are differentiated from their predecessors by the types of hunting weapons (chiefly arrowheads) found.

The archaic period followed about 7,000 years ago until 1000BC. The Laurentian Archaic people had more sophisticated tools, hunted big game, and were war-like as human remains from the period show damage to bodies that were human afflicted.

The Woodland period followed from 1000 BC until European contact. The Point Peninsula Culture existed here from 700 BC to 1000 AD. Again they had more sophisticated tools and introduced pottery to the region, and they elaborated burial ceremonies.

Around 1000 years ago, corn cultivation began to dominate the tribes who inhabited the area of Eastern Ontario until the arrival of the Europeans. The area was inhabited by certain tribes of the Iroquoians and their confederacies. These were the Ontario Iroquois (the Hurons, Petuns and Neutrals), the Five Nation Iroquois Confederacy (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca), the Erie Confederacy and the St. Lawrence Iroquois. 

The St. Lawrence Iroquois, whom Cartier met in the 1500s, disappeared when Champlain arrived 60 years later to start colonization. Two villages nearby, at Maynard and Roebuck in Grenville County, both disappeared around 600 years ago. Their villages contained over 1000 people at one time, and they lived in the traditional "longhouse" of their people surrounded by palisades (indicating hostile neighbours) and evidence of extensive agriculture (corn, squash, and beans). Fishing outstripped hunting for these people.

The Iroquois were hostile to other tribes, and when others were captured, they were either enslaved or put to death. 
They were particularly aggressive to the Humans and Petuns who lived a little further west of here.

When the French arrived, they allied themselves with the Algonquins and the Hurons. The English, who settled in the 13 colonies, allied themselves with the Mohawks and other Iroquois other than the Hurons. The Hurons were eventually wiped out by the other Iroquois tribes. After that, some Ojibway Algonkians, largely Mississaugua, who were hunters/gatherers, entered into Eastern Ontario, which at the time was largely unoccupied. It was these natives that the Europeans encountered in Eastern Ontario on the latter's arrival.

The Iroquois from Quebec and the Mohawks from the 13 Colonies moved into the St. Lawrence region near Cornwall after the French Indian Way that ended in 1763. Around the same time, a group of Iroquois (chiefly Onondagas and some Oneidas and Cayugas) entered the area around Ogdensburgh, where they remained until they moved to St. Regis. (1806)

On May 31, 1819, the British purchased all the land of Eastern Ontario from a line running from Gananoque to Pembroke comprising some 2,748,000 acres for an annual fee of 642 pounds. This was paid to the Mississaugua, who had claimed ownership over the Huron-Petuns Iroquois, although it was contested by the New York Iroquois Confederacy. The Mississaugua descendants live around Rice Lake near Peterborough.

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