The Amazing History of Victoria County - Part 2 - STONE AGE ANNALS OF VICTORIA COUNTY

Scattered broadcast over our countryside lie the evidences of an earlier civilization than our own. The removal of primeval forest by the pioneers of last century laid bare the bones and potsherds of a vanished race; and even yet the plough turns up their tools and weapons and furrows through earth that is blackened by the ashes of their village fires. A few of these traces belong to a people whose diminished descendants still linger on in fenced off corners of our land, but by far the greater number must be ascribed to times much more remote and to tribes of somewhat different culture. For the aboriginal folk now with us did not enter these hunting grounds until the second quarter of the eighteenth century, while most of the village sites in Victoria County are surmounted by huge pine stumps whose age pushes back the antiquity of occupation to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Who These Ancient Villagers Were.

In identifying these ancient tribes we are not altogether left to guesswork, for the journals of the first white explorers in America, coupled with the diligent researches of modern archaeologists, have rescued their identity and culture from the twilight of speculation.

In 1498, the Cabots explored the Atlantic coast of America from Newfoundland to Cape Hatteras. In 1535, the French navigator Jacques Cartier, first ascended the St. Lawrence basin as far west as Montreal. At this time the northeastern part of North America was peopled by two great races of Indians. The Algonquins were spread throughout Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, all eastern Canada except Southern Ontario, and all down the Atlantic coast. These included the Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Cree, Shawnee and Ojibway tribes and half a hundred others. It was these Algonquins who made life perilous for the English and Dutch settlers along the eastern seaboard. Lying like an island in the midst of these Algonquin peoples, lay a second great race, inferior to them in numbers but superior in culture and social organization. This was the Iroquoian or Huron - Iroquois race who occupied modern Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, and that part of Ontario lying south of the granite highlands. This race included the Cherokees, Susquehannas, Eries, Neutrals, Tobacco Nation, Hurons and the Iroquois Confederacy of Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Senecas and Cayugas.

The orthodox theory of modern archaeologists assigns to the whole Iroquoian race an original source in a limited area centered about the mouth of the Ohio River. Here they evolved their typical civilization, dwelling in stockaded villages, tilling the soil, and developing in advanced societal organization. To the north in Central Ohio, lived the mysterious Mound-builders, whose monumental works still persist to mystify a later generation. Beyond the Mound-builders, lay a host of Algonquin tribes. About the 13th century the Iroquoians entered on one of those wholesale migrations which occur so often in the history of primitive man. The Mound-builders felt the first edge of their aggression and were exterminated, except for a few who were absorbed or driven northward to Ontario. Their presence here is attested by the famous Otonabee Serpent Mounds on the north shore of Rice Lake, and perhaps the two small mound graves on the south shore of Ghost Island, Balsom Lake. The stream of Iroquoian migration now split up into two main currents. The Iroquois pushed eastward into the State of New York and settled there. The Hurons, the Tobacco Nation, and the Neutrals crossed into Ontario and drove out the Mound-builder refugees and their Algonquin patrons. The Hurons, apparently, pressed on down the St. Lawrence valley to Montreal, and here in 1535, Cartier found their villages and conferred with their chiefs.

This was the time at which Victoria County supported its largest Indian population. Between the sterile granite wilderness of Dalton and Longford on the north and the morainic hills of Durham in the south lay country well suited for a Huron civilization. The soil favored their slender crops. Lakes and rivers gave them fish and convenient trade routes. The forests in all directions swarmed with game. Every natural factor invited occupation, and today some fifty-five Huron village sites have been located throughout the county.

Doubt is sometimes cast on the identity of these Huron tribes, and some recent writers refer to them as Algonquins. Their pottery, it seems, is not of the pure Huron type, but is rather a blending of Huron and Algonquin art . The ash-beds, too, seldom indicate the "long houses" popularly associated with Huron settlements. However, Champlain, who passed through the Kawartha Lakes in 1615 and found Victoria County deserted, was told by his Huron allies that they themselves had occupied this territory and had only recently withdrawn to the district west of Lake Simcoe in order to consolidate their position against their Iroquois enemies. This is corroborated by the reports of the Jesuits who labored among the Hurons from 1633 to 1650. These creditable witnesses assert in their Journal for 1639, that the Rock tribe and Deer tribe of the Hurons had as late as 1590 and 1610 respectively, shifted west from Victoria County and amalgamated with the tribes in Simcoe County. This testimony should certainly be final. The differences in pottery designs probably denote extensive intermarriage with Algonquin tribes to the north. This becomes doubly probable when we remember that the Indian woman and not the men, made the pottery. As for the shape of their buildings, it is a mistake to insist on "long houses" in Huron villages. The long house was the exception found chiefly in large, compact towns, while the Jesuits testify that the typical Huron home was square, both the length and breadth being about thirty feet.


The diligent research work of Colonel George E. Laidlaw of Victoria Road has made it possible to set forth a list of fifty-five of these Huron villages. The outstanding difference between these sites and some fifteen others of more recent times lies in the relative scarcity of flints (thus indicating an agricultural life), in the complete absence of iron weapons and other signs of contact with Europeans, and in the great age of trees which overlay them when first cleared by modern pioneers. Many of these sites are now almost obliterated through long years of cultivation and are only distinguishable by the blackness of the soil in which their ashes are mingled.

The townships of Emily, Ops and Mariposa show no trace of Huron occupation. Whether this absence was actual or whether the present occupants of the soil have failed to report any camp sites to Colonel Laidlaw is uncertain.

For the rest of the county the record stands as follows:


(1). Lot 6, Con. 5. R. Mitchell, owner. This is a large site and overlaps upon adjacent lots.

(2). East one-half Lot 26, Con. 5. S. Pogue, owner.


(1). Lot 1, Con. 3. on low ground about 150 yards south of McLaren's Creek and half a mile west of the Fenelon Road, Messrs. D. Brown and Waldon owners.

(2). Lot 6, Con. 2. on a level bank on the north side of a spring . This is at Cambray village, about three miles from Site No. 1. Owner, Wm. Sinclair.

(3). North one-half Lot 9, Con. 1. A small village site on a point of land jutting west into Goose Lake. Owner, G. R. B. Coates.

(4). Lot 10, Con. 1, east of Goose Lake. Owner, Thos. Douglass.

(5). Lot 12, Con. 1, on the top of a high bank nearly a mile northeast of Goose Lake. This was a large village and has furnished many relics. Owner Neil Clarke.

(6). East part Lot 21, Con. 2, Alex McKenzie, owner.

(7). East part southwest one-half Lot 22, Con. 1, D.P. McKenzie, owner.

(8). Lot 23, Con. 1, D. Brown, owner.

(9). West one-half Lot 23, Con. 2, Alex. Jamieson, owner. On this site occurs a strange semicircular embankment, twelve feet wide and two hundred and twenty feet long. The camp lay between this embankment and a small stream about eighty yards to the east.

(10). Birch Point, Balsam Lake, being broken front 26, Con. 3, Dugald Sinclair, owner.

(11). Perrington's, Long Point, Balsam Lake, on a hill between West Bay and South Bay.

(12). West part Lot 26, Con. 4, Archibald McArthur, owner.

(13). Lots 14 and 15, Con. 6.

(14). Strowd's, Lot 18, Con. 6.

(15). Lot 23, Con. 6. Small camp on knoll. Owner, W.F. Smitheram.

(16). Lot 10, Con. 10. Sturgeon Point, on rising ground a few yards west of the Township line.


(1). Lot 12, Con. 10. W. Thornbury, owner. Five miles north of Goose Lake.

(2). East half Lot 20, Con. 8, D. McArthur, owner.

(3). Lot 22, Con. 8. Large site on high north bank of Grass River. Owner, Mr. Truman.

(4). Lot 23, Con. 3, W. J. Stanley, owner. A very compact site at the north foot of Logan's Hill just south of Butternut Creek.

(5). Lot 41, South Portage Road. Owner, Mr. Brace.

(6). Lots 44 and 45, South Portage Road. Semicircular site on high ground on the south side of the range of hills that lies to the south and east of Kirkfield. Owner, Mr. Macdonald.

(7). South end, Lot 50, South Portage Road. A mile south of Grass River, on the north side of a hill. Owner, Wm. Fry,

(8). Lot 54, North Portage Road. Moses Mitchell, owner. Site on a point on the south shore of Mitchell's Lake.

(9). North end, Lot 56, North Portage Road. Small fishing camp near former exit of Grass River from Mitchell's Lake.


(1). Lot 1, North Portage Road, Rummerfield Hill.

(2). Heaslip's Point. Lot 2. Northwest Bay, Balsam Lake.

(3). Head of Portage, Balsam Lake, Block E.

(4). Barrack's Block E, Balsam Lake.

(5). West side of Indian Point, Balsam Lake, about threequarters of a mile from the end. Owner, J. H. Carnegie.

(6). West one-half Lots 5 and 6, Con. 2. Mr. Benson, owner.

(7). Lot 11, Con. 2, H. Southern, owner. Site on crest of small tongue of land running into a swamp.

(8). Lot 3, Con. 3. McKague, owner. Site on bend of Perch Creek.

(9). Lot 5, Con. 3. Corbett's Hill. Large village strategically placed commanding the divide between Raven Lake and Balsam Lake.

(10). Smith's, Lot 18, Gull River Range.


(1). Lots 56 and 57. Front Range, G. Rumney, owner. Site on rising ground half a mile east of Big Mud Turtle Lake.

(2). Lot 60, Front Range, a quarter of a mile from the previous site but on the opposite side of a valley. Owner, Mr. Wallace.

(3). Lots 69, 70 and 71, Front Range. Edward Lee, owner. On a flat 200 yard ledge, fifty feet above the east shore of Big Mud Turtle Lake.


(1). East half Lots 8 and 9, Con. 9, on the south side of Beech Lake.

(2). Lots 11 and 12, Con. 8. Mrs. Staples and G. Winterbourn, owners. This village is about 400 yards from the northern edge of the limestone territory which ends here in an abrupt escarpment.

(3). Lot 12, Con. 17, David Hilton, owner. This site is about 240 rods northwest of the previous one and 50 rods east of Head Lake. The same locality was occupied for a second time at a comparatively recent date. All three of the Laxton sites are on the portage trail from Gull River to Head Lake.


Lot 25, Con. 3, F. Reid, owner. This is on the Head River two miles below head Lake and is on the same canoe route as the Laxton villages.


(1). Lot 6, Con. 10. Patrick Duggan, owner. On high gravelly hill.

(2). Lot 6, Con. 5, F. Whalen, owner.

(3). Lot 18, Con. 4, John Chrysler, owner. This village covered five or six acres in a valley on the east side of Lower Mud Lake.

(4). Lot 21, Con. 4, close to Lower Mud Lake. Owner, Mr. Boyle.

Thorough search by Col. Laidlaw has failed to reveal any village sites in the granitic regions of Digby, Dalton and Longford. Villages on Lot 2, Con. 11 and Lot 1, Con. 13, Mara Township, are within a mile or two of Lower Mud Lake and were probably closely related to site Nos. 3 and 4 in Carden.

In addition to the numerous settlements just detailed, there have been listed some forty-eight different localities throughout Victoria County in which Indian relics have been found but in which no ashbeds the only sure root of a camp-site have been located.

It is instructive to note that nearly all these villages were built at some distance from the main lakes and watercourses. The Huron civilization was based on agriculture and was drawn inland by the more favorable soil found there. The menace of roving enemies always overshadowed them and to rear a conspicuous or unsheltered camp was to court destruction. For this reason, too, their homes were hidden up some wooded glen, and fenced about with a natural barrier of marsh or hill. Only an occasional fishing hamlet ventured out upon the shore. It was an age of chronic insecurity. Eternal vigilance was the price of existence. Any hour of the day or night might bring the onslaught of a legion of screaming devils.


The life of these tribes, their homes, food, clothes, tools and weapons, their domestic customs, their manner of marriage, warfare, and burial, are all strange to the conceptions of our time. Luckily the Jesuits who lived among the Hurons at a slightly later period, have given us a full and graphic account of their works and ways, an account whose completeness and reliability render almost superfluous the abundant corroboration of modern archaeological research.

As described by their Jesuit friends and sheperds, the typical Huron house consisted of a scaffold of saplings about thirty feet in length, breadth and height, and covered over with sheets of bark. Doors opened at opposite ends, and on entering one saw a single room with broad shelves four feet from the ground, running along the wall on either hand, as in a large sleeping car. Fires were built on the earthen floor down the center of the room, and the smoke filtered out through a hole in the roof. At night such a Huron lodge would be like a glimpse of Hell, a chaos of fire and smoke, with dark, naked bodies strewn around anid a bedlam of shrieking children and snarling dogs. In some of the larger villages, a house was sometimes extended to many times its normal length and here the infernal confusion was even worse confounded. From twenty to one hundred families would be mingled together in a welter of noisy lawlessness.

Their staple food was Indian corn without salt, prepared in a variety of unpleasant forms. Dog-flesh was highly prized and easily obtained while the more elusive venison and bear meat were reserved for times of special feasting. Human flesh was also devoured whenever they were fortunate enough to capture some of their enemies. There was always a prelude of torture, after which the bodies were divided and boiled in kettles. On a single occasion in 1639, one hundred Iroquois prisoners were added to the Huron dietary. The Jesuit missionaries at St. Joseph, twelve miles west of Orillia, were repeatedly urged to join in the feast and their hosts even threw a cooked portion in through their chapel door.

Agriculture was the foundation of the Huron system of society, yet their methods were very primitive. The land was cleared by alternate burnings and choppings around the base of each individual tree. The charred stumps were left in place and the squaws scratched the ground between them with hoes of wood and bone. The crop consisted of corn, beans, pumpkins, tobacco, hemp, and sunflowers. The sunflowers were used only for the purpose of securing hair-oil from their seeds. This hair-oil constituted the complete summer costume of one of the Grey County tribes.

The general dress of the Hurons was, however, more adequate and was formed of skins, cured with smoke. The men in summer retrenched to moccasins and a breech-clout; but the women were commended by the Jesuits for the modesty of their attire. Girls at dances were the only notorious exception. In winter, the warriors donned tunics and leggings of skin and on occasions of ceremony wrapped themselves in robes of beaver or otter fur, embroidered with porcupine quills.

Huron women lived most unlovely lives. A youth of wantonness passed quickly into an old age of drudgery. Romantic love and courtship occasionally ascribed to these people by irresponsible sentimentalists in our own day, were smothered out in the hot, dissolute shamelessness of the crowded lodge. Marriage was usually temporary and experimental and consisted in a girl's acceptance of a gift of wampum. Divorce could be secured at the whim of either party, and as the gifts were never returned, attractive and enterprising girls often amassed a great store of wampum. Before passing final judgment on such customs, we would do well to remember that equal licentiousness exists in the modern state of California, where the nominally civilized white population lies.

Once a mother and established as a permanent wife, the Huron woman became a household dredge, sowing maize, tilling the charred earth, harvesting, collecting the wood, smoking fish, curing skins, and making clothing. All pottery was of her manufacture. For this, she would take suitable clay, and knead it thoroughly with her hands and feet, adding betimes some such tempering material as pulverized shells, quartz, or mica. The resultant paste would then be rolled out and into long snakelike stripe and these carefully coiled up into the form of a pot. As the vessel took shape it was continually smoothed and fashioned inside and out by the bare hand moistened with water. The finished product was globular urn with a constricted neck and a decorated collar. For its final hardening, it was dried and then baked in coals from the fire.

The men's manufactures included their homes, their tools and weapons of flint, their pipes, and their birch bark canoes. The fashioning of flint was a quick and simple process. The fragments of stone were first secured by lighting a fire on the bedrock and then throwing cold water on the heated surface. Then from the hollow shaft of a goose-quill would be formed an instrument like a medicine-dropper or a fountain-pen filler, and to its upper end was lashed an animal's bladder filled with cold water. The prospective tomahawk or spearhead was next heated in the fire and held between two sticks while the flint-worker touched it here and there with the cold, moist, quill -tip and splintered off the flakes of roock with great skill and greater rapidity. Some writers have in the past claimed that the cold flint was shaped with a small chisel of bone, but Indians themselves have assured me that the "heat and water method" was the only genuine, as well as the only practicable, system in existence. Five flint workshops have been located in Victoria County as follows: -

(1). On the southwest corner of Ghost Island, Balsam Lake.

(2). On Lot 5, South Portage Road, Bexley, on a flat bank near Grass River.

(3). On Block C, Bexley, on the shore of Balsam Lake near the Trent Canal entrance.

(4). On the west and south shore of Bobcaygeon Island.

(5). On Lot 5, Con. 1, Fenelon.

Another product of masculine ingenuity was the wampum. This was a mysterious fabric of white and purple beads made from the inner parts of certain sea shells from the Gulf of Mexico. Wampum was used for necklaces, collars and bracelets by girls at dances. It also served as currency and for the confirmation of treaties. The tribal records were likewise kept in strings of wampum, and in such cases beads of different colors and sizes were taken to represent certain syllables, thus making the wampum the equivalent of a written language. Certain men in each tribe were trained to an understanding of the pneumonic system and even today a few individuals remain who can read the wampum's.

In summer and autumn, the men would engage in their more serious employment, fishing from their birch canoes with bone hooks or hempen nets, hunting for deer finding wampum and corn for the fish and furs of their nomad, Algonquin neighbours of the north, or risking their lives on some far-off foray into the territories of their enemies. But before the New Year all would be gathered in their villages for the winter season of idleness. Gambling, smoking, feasting and dancing now took up their time. Their gambling was a primitive "crap" game played with plum stones or wooden lozenges or even with discs of pottery. No limits existed in their reckless betting, and a man often staked and lost his weapons, his clothes, and his wife. Feasting was entered upon almost as desperately and a Huron host would frequently sink all his substance in providing one superlative banquet to the entire village.

One of the most remarkable customs of the Hurons was their Feast of the Dead, held every twelve years. As individuals died from time to time, their bodies were either buried in the earth in a crouching posture or strapped on a scaffold in a tree. These obsequies were, however, only temporary , and at intervals of twelve years all the corpses of the tribe were brought together and buried in one large, circular pit. The Jesuit Fathers were eye-witnesses, of one of these ghastly celebrations and have left us their report. Each village first exhumed its dead, and carefully scraped the bones of all except the most recent corpses. These hideous relics were then suspended from the rafters of homes while mourners held a funeral feast beneath them. They then set out the central burying-place of the tribe, marching along the forest-paths with their carrion and bundles of bones on their shoulders. When all he villages had assembled, funeral games were held and orations made by the chiefs. Then all complete corpses were carefully ranged around the bottom of the pit and the loose bones thrown in pell-mell on top amid indescribable clamor and lamentation. Finally logs, earth and stones were thrown on top and the unearthly shrieking subsided into a despairing chant.

Four of these ossuaries have been located within a sixteen-mile radius of Lindsay as follows: -

(1). On the west half of Lot 10, Concession 1, Fenelon, on the top of a sandy hill about a quarter of a mile east of Goose Lake. This first opened in the 'seventies by the late Dr. Hart of Cannington, the late A. B. Coates, of Cambray, and his son, Mr. G. R. B. Coates. (2). On Lot 28, Concession 8, Verulam, owned by Mr. R. C. Devitt. This pit, however, is likely to contain the Indians slain in battle in comparatively recent times, for iron tomahawks were found in it and tradition tells of a nearby conflict in Mississaga times. (3). On Lot 3, Concession 11, Manvers, two miles from Scugog Lake in a line due east from Washburn's Island. This Lot is on Mr. Thos. Syer's farm. The ossuary was opened about thirty years ago and contained several hundred skeletons. (4). Five miles east of the Syer ossuary, on Lot 18, Concession 8, Manvers, owned by Mr. R. Fallis. This burial-pit is on a high, gravelly hill and was grown over with trees from three to four centuries in age. It was first investigated in the early 'forties by Mr. Thos. Graham and Mr. Peter Preston. General Sir Sam Hughes also excavated here in 1871. The contents of the pit were estimated at one thousand skeletons. Both this ossuary and the one on the Syer farm are indubitable specimens of the Huron period.

Such were the customs and manners of the Huron's when the French first found them in Simcoe County in 1615, and such, undoubtedly, had been the customs and manners of those living in Victoria County a few years before.

But Victoria was soon to be depopulated. The Iroquois Confederacy in New York State was developing such societal concentration and warlike ferocity as to menace the existence of all its neighbours. In 1595, according to Lescarbot, a war-party of Iroquois wiped away all tribes from the St. Lawrence Valley. This great danger doubtless forced the retirement of the Rock and Deer Huron's to the west of Lake Simcoe, as well as the development there of the large palisaded towns so common in Simcoe County but apparently so rare in the more peaceful era when Victoria County was occupied.


The First white man in Victoria C. was a Frenchman. In 1615, Samuel de Champlain, the great explorer, went up the Ottawa River by canoe with two French companions and ten Huron Indians. He crossed through Lake Nippissing, skirted the east shore of Georgian Bay and finally reached the Huron country in the County of Simcoe. Here he undertook to join a party of 2500 warriors on an expedition into the heart of the Iroquois country. The flotilla of war canoes left the shores of Lake Couchiching on September 10, 1615. Champlain in his Journal, makes brief mention of the territory through which they passed.

"We continued our journey toward the enemy and went some five or six leagues through these lakes (Couchiching and Simcoe.) Then the savages carried their canoes about ten leagues by land and we came to another lake six to seven leagues in length, and three in breadth from this lake flows a river (the Trent system) which discharges into the great lake of the Entonhonorons (Ontario). After traversing this lake, we passed a fall and continuing on our course down this river for about sixty-four leagues, entered the lake of the Entonhonorons. On our way we portaged around five falls, in some cases for four or five leagues. We also passed through several large lakes on the river system. The river itself is large and abounds in good fish. All this region is certainly very fine and pleasant. Along the banks it seems as if the trees had been set out for ornament in most places; and it seems that all these tracts were in former times inhabited by the savages, who were subsequently compelled to abandon them from fear of their enemies."

In spite of the mistiness of this description and Champlain's notorious errors in estimating distances; we should have little difficulty in tracing his course across this county. He would skirt the east shore of Lake Simcoe as far as the Talbot River, and here on the south bank, on Lot 12, Concession 9, Thorah Township, step ashore at a spot still known traditionally as "Champlain's Landing." He would cross by the ancient trail, now Portage Road, to Balsam Lake. Before dams and locks were built at Rosedale there was little difference in level between Balsam and Cameron Lakes, and Champlain would probably get the impression that they were one long body of water, -- hence the dimensions which he gives. He could not, however, fail to notice Fenelon Falls, then not the meek, domesticated sluiceway of today, but a virgin cataract, eighty feet wide, foaming down twenty-three feet into a rocky gorge; and we are not surprised to find it mentioned in his narrative. Further details of his trip must be left to speculation. We do know that for centuries the Indians portaged direct from Bridgenorth on Chemong Lake, to Peterboro, a distance of six miles, thus saving a fifty-mile detour through Deer Day and Clear Lake, and a spot on the high sandy shore near Bridgenorth is known traditionally as "Champlain's Rest."

The great Frenchman passed back through this territory once again. The expedition against the Iroquois was a failure; Champlain himself was wounded; his Huron allies refused to lend him a canoe in which to descend the St. Lawrence to Quebec; and he was compelled to pass the winter with them. The return trip to Simcoe County was a trying ordeal. The war party waited on a lake north of Kingston till December 4th, when the lakes froze solid; and then started for home on snowshoes. Mid-December saw Champlain and his twenty-five hundred warriors swarming in a dark rabble across the snowy surface of Sturgeon, Cameron and Balsam Lakes. They reached their goal two days before Christmas. Some authorities have supposed that the long temporary camp of the party was at Bridgenorth, but there is nothing in Champlain's narrative to suggest this. Besides Bridgenorth is less than eighty miles from the Huron country by the most circuitous route, and it is hardly conceivable that the picked men of the nation, eager to reach the warmth and comfort of their villages, would take nineteen days (at a speed of four miles a day) to cover this distance on snowshoes.


The warfare between the Iroquois and the Hurons, in which Champlain's expedition of 1615 was only an incident, came to a sudden end in the middle of the century . In 1649, while Charles the First was being executed in England, the Iroquois determined to close in on Simcoe County with their entire force. The chief Huron towns were stormed. The inhabitants were butchered or taken captive. Three of the Jesuit Fathers, Daniel, Brebeuf and Lalement, suffered martyrdom. A remnant of the doomed nation fled for the winter to islands in Georgian Bay, there to waste away with starvation. With the return of the Iroquois in the spring of 1650 a little handful of Hurons paddled with the surviving Jesuits by the Ottawa route to Quebec. Others fled far to the north and west of Lake Huron. Today their only representatives are a few hundred half-breeds in Oklahoma and at Lorette, near Quebec. The Iroquois campaigns of 1649-50 practically exterminated the Huron race.

For nearly a century the Iroquois roamed unhindered over the deserted country of the Hurons. They planted villages on the shores of Rice Lake and the Otonabee River and tilled the soil there. There is a tradition of a Mohawk camp in Oak Orchard, Sturgeon Point, but its authenticity is uncertain, and the relics found there may belong to the earlier, Huron period.


Retribution, though long delayed, overtook the Iroquois at last. The avengers of the Huron nation were the Mississagas, an Algonquin tribe from near Sault Ste. Marie, who trace their lineage back to the Shawnees of Kentucky. Early in the 18th century, hunting parties of the Mississagas started drifting down over central and western Ontario. Here they were set upon and massacred by the Iroquois. The outcome was a Mississauga council of war in 1740 and the launching of a great punitive expedition against the enemy. The story of that grand foray, as handed down in Mississaga tradition, makes stirring reading. The conflict opened with the annihilation of a Mohawk force on the "Island of Skulls" in Georgian Bay. In Victoria County the Iroquois resistance stiffened, and eight swift, bloody battles had to be won before the Mississagas could slash their way through to the east. Near Coboconk, on Lots 18 and 19, Gull River Range, one may still see the pits from which beleaguered Mohawks fought to the death. Another party was wiped out on a small island off Indian Point, Balsam Lake, and just west of the modern steamboat channel. A band of Iroquois were ambushed in the valley of Goose Lake, north of Cambray and slaughtered there. Other parties clashed at Sturgeon Point and Ball Point, and some, who retreated up the Scugog past Lindsay made their last stand at Caesarea, on the east shore of Scugog Lake, and at Washburn's Island. At the latter place, the warriors fought in the shallows up to their waists in water, and for long years afterwards the waves kept washing human bones up on the beach. Still another party was cut down on Lot 28, Concession 7, Verulam, about five miles north-northwest of Bobcaygeon. Then the exultant Mississagas swarmed eastward down the Trent system.

But the warlike Iroquois were not yet wholly discomfited. They checked the Mississaga rush for a moment at Cemetery Point, Peterborough and then fell back on their Rice Lake encampments. Here, from the mouth of the Otonabee six miles east to Roach's Point, ensued one of the bitterest and most sanguinary struggles in the history of Indian warfare. It was no surprise attack but a pitched battle fought by land and by water and contested every foot of the way with amazing ferocity and determination. Over a thousand Iroquois had died fighting, before their party broke and fled. There was a brief rally at Cameron's Point, near the foot of the lake, but the struggle was really over, and the Mohawks were soon in full retreat towards Lake Ontario, with the Mississagas in pursuit. Nor was this the end of this stirring campaign; for the Mississauga expedition actually crossed into New York State, besieged the Iroquois in their villages there, and enforced a treaty by which the Mississagas were admitted as an additional tribe in the Iroquois Confederacy.


A general migration from their northern home into the land thus cleared of Mohawks, was the immediate result of this season of Mississaga warfare. From 1746 to 1750 they fought with the Iroquois against the French, but suffered reverses and withdrew from the Confederacy. However, they continued to occupy Southern Ontario. Victoria County, for the first time in 150 years, was again dotted with villages, though not as thickly as in Huron times.

Fifteen of these Mississaga villages in or adjacent to the County have been listed as follows: --

(1). West half lots 8 and 9, Concession 6, Ops, near Stony Creek (or East Cross Creek). Owner, Mr. Carlin.

(2). Lot 10, Con. 3, Ops, at the mouth of West Cross Creek. Owner, Jas. Roach.

(3). On the shore of Scugog Lake, just south of Port Perry.

(4). On Lot 5, Con. 11, Verulam, Mr. M. Killaby, owner. This is a sandy site about fifty rods from Pigeon Lake.

(5). At Pleasant Point, Sturgeon Lake.

(6). On the site of the Presbyterian manse, Cambray village.

(7). On the west part of Lot 26, Con. 4, Fenelon, Mr. Archibald McArthur, owner. This village was on a terrace touching the shore of South Bay, Balsam Lake.

(8). Lot 29, Con. 3, Fenelon, on east shore of Long Point, just across South Bay from the previous site. Owner, Mr. F. Staples.

(9). Lot 21, Con. 9, Eldon, Donald Fraser, Owner.

(10). Southeast corner, Indian Point, Balsam Lake, Owner, Mr. J. H. Carnegie.

(11). Lots 19 and 20, Gull River Range, Bexley, near Coboconk, Owner, Mr. J. Moore.

(12). Lot 24, Con. 2, Somerville, J. Ead, owner.

(13). East half Lot 1, Con. 8, Laxton, Wm. Campbell, owner. This is on a flat on the south shore of Deer Lake.

(14). Lot 12, Con. 7, Laxton. David Hilton, owner.

(15). Lot 18, Con. 4, Carden, J. Chrysler, owner. This is on the east side of Lower Mud Lake.

The Mississagas were a tall race, characterized by fine physique and a heavy, prominent nose. They probably equaled the Iroquois in bravery and strength but lacked their solidity of character, and capacity for organization. Their prowess in war needs no vindication, but they never established a strong, concentrated civilization after the manner of the Iroquois and the Hurons. They depended far more on hunting and fishing than on agriculture, and so, lived in small, scattered groups throughout their domain. Their homes were not the rectangular bar lodges of the Iroquois peoples, but round wigwams built by planting poles in a circle, tying their tops together, and fastening birch bark or grass mats around the outside as walls.

From this period dates a "deer fence", which found, in pioneer days, running east from Goose Lake, near Cambray, to Sturgeon Lake , five miles away. This fence was made by felling trees in a long row and piling brush along them. Gaps were left at intervals, and here hunters would take their places while beaters drove the deer along the fence. The frightened animals would pass through the gaps and there be shot down at a point blank range that made arrows fatal.

From this era, too, dates the legend of Manita. In the version told me by Johnston Paudash, son of the Mississaga Chief at the Nanabazhoo Reserve, Rice Lake. Manita or Nomena ("light of love") was the daughter of a great Mississaga chief who lived at Pleasant Point, Sturegon Lake. Ogemah, an Iroquois chief, paddled alone from his own country to ask for her in marriage, but was murdered by a jealous Mississaga brave. About 1886 a poem on this theme was published in Lindsay by the late Mr. William McDonnell. This poem is a pretty little idyll, but as a prtrayal of Indian psychology it is hopelessly sentimental and therefore unbelievable. It also substitutes Huron for Mississaga, Sturgeon Point for Pleasant Point and brings Ogemah on the stage by way of Lindsay, the wrong direction entirely.

Mr. Paudash also assured me that the war paint used by Indians was for the purpose of camouflage in the forest. This device would therefore antedate the Great War by several centuries. The Indians also had a system of signaling with the arms, much like the "semaphore" system, but each position of the arms represented a syllable and not a letter. They also signaled by passing a deerskin in front of a fire-light in a fashion that foreshadowed the hellograph.


In 1763, by the Peace of Paris, France relinquished to England all claim on Canada. In the same year, the English issued a proclamation conceding to the Indians the right of occupancy upon their old hunting-grounds and their claim to compensation for its surrender.

In accordance with this policy, the English government treated for and obtained in 1784 a formal cession of the tier of townships now fronting on Lake Ontario from Toronto east to Trenton. This satisfied the land-hunger of Angl-Saxon colonists for more than three decades, but its area was not permanently adequate. At last, on November 5, 1818, the chiefs of the six Mississaga tribes, Buckquaquet of the Eagles, Pishikinse of the Reindeers, Paudash of the Cranes, Cahgahkishinse of the Pike, Cahgageewin of the Snakes, and Pininse of the White Oaks, were summoned to Port Hope. There they sold to the Crown a great block of land comprising the modern counties of Peterborough and Victoria, and twenty-eight adjoining townships or parts of townships in Hastings, Northumberland, Durham, Ontario, Muskoka and Haliburton. For this tract, comprising well over two million acres, the purchase price was set at 740 British Pounds in goods to be delivered yearly forever to the Mississaga tribes of the district. After this contract had been signed, however, the Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs added a strange postscript announcing that the government proposed to issue only ten dollars in goods annually to each man, woman and child alive at the time of the sale. This payment would cease on their death; and individuals born after November 5, 1918, would receive nothing. Thus, by a stroke of chicanery, fifty-seven Ontario townships passed to the white man for a brief dole of merchandise. (See "Indian Treaties and Surrenders," Vol. I, page 49, published by the King's Printer, Ottawa.)

The history of the Mississagas since contact with the white man has been a slow tragedy. Originally numbering several thousands, they were so debauched by the white man's whiskey and so ravaged by the white man's diseases that only a few hundred were left by the second quarter of last century. They presented a constant problem to the government, for their unprofitable occupation of good land roused much covetousness, while their frank and trustful natures made them an easy prey to a swarm of swindlers. Certain small reservations of land were at last bought or set aside for them by the Crown. Here they still live. They have adopted the Christian religion and a measure of Anglo-Saxon civilization, but their old traditions and instincts die hard. In 1911, the Mississagas totaled 831, and were located in reserves on Rice Lake, Mud Lake, Scugog Lake and the Credit River. Victoria County, once part of their wild domain, has passed almost completely into other hands.

Next - History of the County of Victoria Part 3

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