Our Shared Paths

We share paths that are thousands of years old, used by the Wendat (Huron), Haudenosaunee [pronunciation] (Iroquois), Ojibway (Mississauga), French and British. Marked on the following map in grey are the trails and gathering places of these earlier people. Dotted lines are guesstimates. Blue lines are streams and shorelines. The Mississaugas made clearings in Parkdale, Liberty Village and Exhibition Place for their seasonal villages and trade fairs. The Dundas trail from top left ran past General Givens’ house near today’s Ossington, then along Garrison Creek to the lake shore path.

The following slides show how I compared the accurate 1818 Philpotts map to the current map. Slide Show, with controls.

The following 1814 sketch of Fort York shows the lake shore trail used as a road.

This 1817 map by Lieut E A Smith shows that Dundas Street included Ossington and Queen Streets and was once York’s western highway.

Dundas became the main Western Colonial Highway. In 1850 this stage coach approaches Brockton road west bound on the Highway to Dundas.

The following 1813 Williams sketch shows clearings and trails into Parkdale. The left side of the map west of Fort York is not very accurate. The clearing on the left would have been somewhere south of Dunn Ave. The next clearing to the right contains the remains of Fort Rouille.

Below I have overlaid the previous 1813 map over an 1851 map. The shoreline in the 1851 map is accurate but unchanged, in Parkdale, from 1813. You can see that west of Fort York things do not line up. This led me to estimate the locations of the clearings and paths west of Fort Rouille.

Who Lived Here and walked these Paths? When  Bouchette mapped the harbour in 1792 he found a blacksmith , the remains of fort Rouille and a native hut. Slide Show follows.

The Wendat (Huron) lived here when Etienne Brule passed through in 1615 on the ‘Toronto’ trail, now called Carrying Place Trail. Toronto is an Iroquoian word for trees in the water, referring to a fishing weir at the north end of Lake Simcoe. Wendat and Haudenosaunee all spoke Iroquoian. They lived in cities of two to five thousand, farmed communally and had representative and participatory democracies. We made this successful model illegal shortly after Confederation.

 Notice that Lake Simcoe is labeled ‘Toronto’. Click the small map to verify. 

By 1650 the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) had wiped out the Wendat using Dutch and British guns. This brought more of the lucrative fur trade to the British, who were then in New York. The Seneca, a Haudenosaunee nation, lived at Baby point about 1650 to 1670 when they were drawn away by more wars.

About 1690 the Mississaugas pushed south from the north shore of Lake Superior. They settled around present Toronto and Mississauga. Each spring they gathered for maple sugaring, then came to the river mouths for larger summer gatherings. In the fall they harvested some crops and dispersed for winter hunting in family territories. They took pride in leaving mother earth clean wherever they had been, ‘leaving only the holes of our tent pegs in the ground.’ They were and are a peaceful people.

In 1701 the Great Peace of Montreal was signed by 40 First Nations and New France. The Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee were among the signatories. The treaty appears to have embodied the spirit of the Two Row Wampum Belt. It resulted on a period of greater peace for the Mississaugas, who extended a friendly welcome to the British when they began arriving. Slide Show.

European Wars in the land of the First Nations caused great suffering.

The Seven Years War, 1756-1763, drew in all of Europe and the North American colonies. Britain won New France from the French and in claiming the Indian Territory touched off a war with Pontiac around Detroit that the British won. Did that make it theirs? Slide Show.

1763-1787 the American Revolution
Depleted financially by the seven years war, Britain taxed the 13 Colonies, triggering the successful American Revolution that in turn forced large numbers of refugees, United Empire Loyalists, into present Ontario. These Loyalists included British, Haudenosaunee and other First Nations. The Mississauga, accustomed to the Great Peace of Montreal, kindly accepted British allied refugees in large numbers, with disastrous consequences.

The new American government, under Washington, allowed colonials to settle illegally on Native land then attacked the First Nations when they forcibly evicted them. In this fashion the Americans were able to demonize the natives and take their land piecemeal.

1789-1792 the French Revolution

The French Monarchy incurred a huge debt supporting the American Revolution. Their attempts to make the other estates pay for this was a major flash point in triggering the French Revolution.

1797 Historicist: The Murder of Wabakinine http://torontoist.com/2015/05/historicist-the-murder-of-wabakinine/

“In war and peace, Wabakinine, head chief of the Mississaugas who made their home on the north shore of Lake Ontario, was a strong friend and ally of the British in the late 18th century. … He was murdered in York in 1796 at the hands of British soldiers one of whome was trying to assault the chief’s sister. The murder of such a widely respected leader shocked the First Nations of the colony, touching off a local crisis as the underlying tension between the Mississaugas and the settlers reached a boiling point.” Worse, the charges were not perused to any serious degree and the rapist and murderer went free. Trust was replaced with intimidation.

1803-1815 The Napoleonic Wars
After the French Revolution there was no clear agreement on how to govern. Napoleon was able to seize power and use invasions for profit. As Napoleon invaded more and more countries Britain was drawn into the wars. Britain first won at sea then gradually defeated Napoleon. As a result successful British military veterans, like Colonel O’Hara, settled in Parkdale. Slide Show.

The War of 1812
The Americans, although ostensibly neutral in the Napoleonic wars, were actually helping the French. This led to war with Britain and was disastrous for the First nations who mostly allied themselves with Britain. Tecumseth created a wide federation to ally with Britain including the Haudenosaunee Six Nations and Mississaugas. Notices how shocked the other officers are to see Brock shake the hand of Tecumseth.

Britain did not arm, feed or defend its First Nations allies. After fighting to a stalemate, Britain and America kept their original boarders and divided the First Nations land between themselves. During the American invasion of York, General Givens and the First Nations took up the most dangerous position directly opposing the American Landing on the present Sunnyside Beach. Many seriously wounded First Nations were taken back to Givens house to be stitched up by his wife. As the British retreated to Kingston and the Americans headed for Givens house intent on killing all First Nations prisoners. The First Nations had to carry their wounded into the night along Dundas. Given’s house: The Americans later cordially returned some library books to the British, that they had taken while occupying the town.

After the war of 1812
After 1812 the British embraced the American policy of ignoring all First Nations governments, rights and status as citizens or humans while prosecuting them criminally if they defended themselves in any way. Once this policy was established things became much worse. This situation has not yet been fixed.

Time for Change.

The Two Row Wampum Belt http://www.wampumchronicles.com/tworowwampumbelt.html
Mississaguas of the New Credit First Nation, Our Historyhttp://www.newcreditfirstnation.com/our-culture.html
Maps http://oldtorontomaps.blogspot.ca/p/index-of-maps.html
Parkdale in Pictures: http://static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/339490.pdf
How to pronounce Haudenosaunee https://www.howtopronounce.com/haudenosaunee/
Givens and First Nations 1812 https://www.thestar.com/news/2007/05/03/bloodstained_floor_told_the_tale.html
Historicist: The Murder of Wabakinine http://torontoist.com/2015/05/historicist-the-murder-of-wabakinine/
Great Peace of Montreal https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Peace_of_Montreal
French Revolution https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution
Napoleonic Wars https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleonic_Wars
Queen Annes War https://www.britannica.com/event/Queen-Annes-War
Beaver Wars https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_Wars

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5 Responses to Our Shared Paths

  1. I appreciate your bringing these historical realities to the attention of those of us who are now living, without an inkling as to the events that led to our ability to live a peaceable and fat life here. This is important work, as it may prevent, if only in a limited way, the continuation and escalation of the kind of attitude that essentially duped and thieved an entire country from a good and trusting people.
    Tecumseth is the embodiment of the spirit and the values of his people and their time. Without their generosity and help during that time in history there would be no such thing as Parkdale, or Liberty Village, or West Queen Street West (and on and on).
    Kudos to you Jack for laying it out for all to read, and on a consistent basis. I have actually met a number of people living in the neighborhood who do not know that Tecumseth is somebody’s name. so keep up the good work. Please.
    I must say that I was devastated to read that after the war of 1812 first nations governments rights and status as citizens or even humans was revoked. i didn’t realize things went quite that far. I am ashamed.
    As a final comment, I was delighted (and then saddened) to see the maps of the trails made so long ago. They are so organic and soft and rounded (as opposed to geometric). In looking at those trails I could see the way the people who made them were thinking and being. it’s an intimate view into how a society interacted with the world around.

  2. Terry Burrell says:

    Thanks for doing this Jack. Very interesting and helpful. It’s piqued my interest in digging in to this more.
    Terry Burrell

  3. Fabulous piece of work…Mike

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