Rice Lake Trading Post and Indian Mound Builders

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The Discoveries of Mr. David Boyle Becoming Historical – More Earth Mounds Found – A Valuable Shell Ornament

That portion of Otonabee township bordering on Rice Lake and the mouth of the Otonabee River, through the recent discoveries of Mr. David Boyle, curator of the archaeological museum, Toronto, has proved to have been the home of the mound builders in Ontario.

Last week - a week ago today – the discovery of a serpent and egg mound, on Roche’s Point, two miles from Keene, was announced and since that time Mr. Boyle has been engaged examining other portions of the land adjacent to the lake and river and has made some interesting discoveries.

After becoming thoroughly familiar with the serpent mound, he inspected other spots, and in his examinations located a mound on the bluff forming, what is known as Cameron’s Point, on Rice Lake, and on opening the artificial formation he found evidences of bodies having been buried there. For several days he has been engaged on Mr. Alex Spear’s farm, a mile and half from the Indian reservation of Hiawatha. That the Indians of centuries past made the shores of Rice Lake one of their centres is certain, and becomes more so when members of the once powerful tribes have resided here for years, Hiawatha is


The dark-faced brethren engaging in farming principally on a reserve set a part by the Government. The farm which Mr. spears occupies is at the mouth of the river, west of Hatrick’s Point, the popular summer resort on the Otonabee. The farm is of an historical nature. It was originally the property of an old British officer, Capt. Anderson, or Major Anderson, who was given a grant of 2,000 acres by the British Government. Very few of the residents of the locality are aware that on the east end of the farm, within a few feet of the lake can be discerned the ruins of an old Northwest trading post. In fact, only one person, Squire Thompson, could be found who could recollect the time when the walls of the house were standing. It was known as the old Bay House and was used for traders coming from the Huron country, now the populous counties surrounding the Georgian Bay, to dispose of their furs at Montreal. The post was possibly more of a resting place where sleep and fresh stock and provisions could be obtained than a trading post, Mr. Boyle learned from Mr. Thompson that the building, which was built of logs, faced the east and west and the chimney stood at the east side, where the only remains, likely those of the fireplace, can be seen. The dimensions of the structure were probably 20 by 24 feet. It is some 25 years since the walls were last seen standing. The post was situated close to a good landing place directly opposite Spook Island.

On this farm, which is also known as the Miller farm, Mr. Boyle made several discoveries. East of Mr. Spears residence and 80 feet above the level of the lake, a


And three skeletons were brought out. They were the largest Mr. Boyle had ever seen and he succeeded in securing five bones. The skulls were not in good condition. In his examination Mr. Boyle also found a knife or arrow, two sharp pointed tools made of deer’s horns. Another mound north of the house had been dug into by a man who wanted to build a root house, and he found two skeletons. This mound was larger than the other one, being about five feet high. Yesterday Mr. Boyle and his men were opening a mound in a field below the house and nearer to the river. Squire Thompson says it was originally six feet high, but it had been ploughed down and the width increased contrary to the statement of the Kentucky man who claimed a mound had been twice as high and twice as wide before it was ploughed. At present this mound is 34 x 44 and 3 feet above the level. In this formation was found one of the rarest and most valuable European shell ornaments. It was made of shell, known as the Busycon, from the Gulf of Mexico and was intended to represent a turtle. A few bone instruments, harpoons – one with six barbs and another with one barb – half of a stone tablet, and two stone axes were also found. The mound itself is composed of earth of various colours – red, white, black, brown and yellow. The white seems chiefly of lime as if bodies or shells had been


The red seems to be half burnt sandy clay. The greatest depth reached at this spot was five feet. The field, in which the mound was situated, looks as if it was an old village or camping site, as the land is burnt to a great extent. Mr. Boyle finds a noticeable absence of pipes in this locality and evidently these Indians were not a smoking race. At Nottowassagga, in the country of Simcoe, more pipes than anything else were found. Mr. Boyle procured an unfinished stone pipe from a Hiawatha Indian and a soapstone pipe for Mr. J. McIntyre. The former was similar to those found in the mounds of Ohio.

Mr. Boyle went to Toronto this morning, but will return and spend some time in Otonabee.

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