Our Home and Native Land

The original inhabitants of Upper Canada are no more.

Actually, there is a little more to it than that. In fact, there is a fairly detailed and complicated history on this, but ultimately the original Iroquoian peoples of Western Ontario were attacked and displaced long before any Europeans settled in the area.

The Huron or Wyandot lived on the southeast coast of Georgian Bay and the Lake Simcoe area. These were the guys with the cool haircuts. Traditionally they were opponents of the 5 Nations Iroquois Confederacy to the east in the Finger Lakes area of NY State. The Petun lived just to the west of the Huron and were into tobacco.

The Neutrals or Chonnonton lived north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and at one time were the largest aboriginal nation in the northeast. Pretty much the only Neutral word that has survived to the present day is “Niagara”. The excelled at agriculture pursuits (growing corn, beans and squash together is highly recommended) and even had a thriving deer industry, likely attempting to domesticate them. They were not exactly pacifists as their name suggests, they simply remained neutral in the power struggle between the Huron and the 5 Nations Iroquois. Much like the Swiss, sans cheese and chocolate.

All were on friendly terms with the Ottawa, an Algonquin-speaking nation living on the Bruce Peninsula and areas to the north.

The Beaver Wars changed all that.

Picture Saruman taking over the Shire in Lord of the Rings (from the book, not the movie. Not sure why Jackson left that part out, it’s not like the movies were too long or anything. I mean, they just have done with him halfway through the trilogy. One of the best scenes of the book is the one where Grima throws a “rock” out of Orthanc at Gandalf, not knowing it was Saruman’s Palantir… ).

Back to the Beaver Wars…

In 1648, the Dutch and English began arming the 5 Nations Iroquois who in turn attacked and displaced the French-allied Huron and Petun.

The next year they turned their sights on the Neutrals who were almost entirely wiped out and whoever was left were assimilated. The Iroquois kept on expanding until they dominated a huge area much like the old Soviet Union, and somewhat more democratic.

They were mostly after hunting ground, and did not seek to settle the area. That came much later.  So the land was largely uninhabited into the 18th century.

Into the vacuum, however, came some Ojibway from the north who called themselves Mississauga and settled on the western end of Lake Ontario. By this time the Beaver Wars were over.

Next up: The French

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