The end of the French regime came in 1760 when the British forced the French government in Quebec City to surrender. This had been presaged by the fall of Fort Frontenac in 1758. The fall of New France had little effect on outlying posts such as Detroit, and although the local French militia was disarmed, it was only for a short period of time. The new British authorities were not as experienced as the French in their dealings with the former Native allies, and a rebellion led by Pontiac, a leader of the Ottawa, disrupted British activities in 1763.
The direct participation of the English in Ontario, however, had begun much earlier than the fall of New France. Radisson and Groseillers had travelled to England in the late 1660s to persuade English financiers that advantageous trade could be had by travelling with goods to the western shore of Hudson Bay. This expedition was successful and the Hudson's Bay Company was formed in 1670 to organize trade from this region. After this date there were trade goods entering northern Ontario on a regular basis and considerable exploration of the Moose, Albany, Hayes, Nelson and Churchill Rivers, occurred. It was not until the second half of the 1700s that the Hudson's Bay Company began to move their posts inland to counter increased trade competition from the Montreal-based companies. These interior posts were at first merely way stations set up to convince the natives to travel on to the posts located on the Bay but later turned into permanent establishments. Until the 1980s the Hudson's Bay Company was a permanent fixture in many northern communities.
The British colonial authorities along the Atlantic seaboard soon found themselves in trouble in the areas of their original settlements along the Atlantic seaboard. The British Crown had been making demands on New England settlers to cover the cost of maintaining British military forces in the New World. Taxes were placed on certain key products and the Americans, as they were now calling themselves, were not allowed to make internal policy decisions. In addition, as a result of a restriction against settlement west of the Allegheny mountains, pressure for land became so great that many colonists from the Atlantic seaboard were prepared to go to war to remove British authority from North America. Unfortunately, it was the Native peoples who were once again caught in the middle of a great struggle between European powers. For the duration of the American revolutionary war from 1776 to 1783, southwestern Ontario was outside the area of military activity. The fort at Detroit, however, performed as a strategic intelligence post and depot for provisioning British and Native campaigns on the Ohio and Kentucky frontier. Most Native groups supported the British during the American revolution.
In the years between 1784 and 1786, the American Government dictated treaties to the Indians of the Northwest as retribution for their support of the British during the revolution. The land surrenders demanded in the Ohio Valley were bitterly opposed by almost all native groups and a pattern of frontier conflict that began with the Pontiac rebellion, intensified along the entire frontier. Through their Indian agents, the British actively supported Native resistance and the Americans were generally on the defensive throughout much of the late 18th century. The American expansion into the fertile Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois territories, however, was inevitable.
Although the American military forces often suffered heavy losses, occasional victories usually forced native leaders into major land surrenders. The republican victory of the American revolution brought the first major wave of English speaking settlers to southwestern Ontario. Disbanded soldiers and Loyalist refugees entering Ontario in the years after the American Revolution placed pressure on the authorities to obtain land, resulting in considerable pressure on the comparatively small British and Indian population. Between 1700 and 1800, a cultural manifestation developed along the Detroit frontier of Natives raiding the Americans, while maintaining settlements behind the British line of defense.
For 25 years, Eastern Ontario remained officially largely unsettled. The success of the American Revolution provided a significant stimulus for the European settlement of Upper Canada, much of the earliest taking place in Eastern Ontario. By the late 1780s land along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River and north shore of Lake Ontario was being awarded to Loyalists for settlement. Communities such as Bath, Kingston and Prescott emerged from this initial settlement. Townships in these areas were the first to be surveyed in Upper Canada.
Archaeological investigations on sites dating to this period have been focused in the Kingston area, primarily on the continued occupation of Fort Frontenac. Work has also been completed on sites such as the Molly Brant property and Lines House which were initially developed in this early period. Other sites such as the Sir John Johnson House in Williamstown have provided some initial insights to this early historic period of settlement.
In 1790, the Wyandots, Ojibwa, Potawatomi and Ottawa peoples surrendered tracts of land amounting to 1,344,000 acres in southwestern Ontario, and this opened up the North Lake Erie shore for Loyalist settlement. Total surrenders between 1790 and 1827 gained the British crown settlement rights to over four million acres in southwestern Ontario.
By the 1830s, the back lots away from the lakes and major rivers had been settled and pressure was placed on the government of the day to gain title of additional Indian Land. Native groups still maintaining traditional seasonal settlement strategies soon found their movements restricted by settlers and were soon largely restricted to the reservations set aside for their use. The reserve system has remained largely unchanged to this day. Native peoples received title to land and annual support in exchange for millions of hectares of land given to European immigrants at little or no cost.
The turn of the century saw a continued flow of settlers into the region including a large number of Americans. During the War of 1812 most of the Ojibwa sided with the British, largely under the leadership of Tecumsah, a Shawnee, and are generally credited with keeping this part of Canada from becoming American. The War of 1812 somewhat diffused the raiding along the border but resulted in the awarding of properties along the Ottawa River to veterans which stimulated development in this region. The Ottawa Valley proved to be of considerable interest due to the large stands of White Pine and other timber. The logging industry provided the forerunner for settlement in different areas of the Ottawa Valley. Communities at Hawkesbury, Hull and Ottawa received their initial stimulus from this activity.
The War of 1812 also stimulated considerable military activity in the region including the continued development of military facilities at Kingston and construction of Fort Wellington at Prescott. The most significant project of this period, however, was the construction of the Rideau Canal (1827 - 1832) providing a link between Kingston and Bytown (Ottawa) and a way of avoiding the St. Lawrence River which was vulnerable to attack by the Americans. Although the canal was never really successful in meeting its primary objective, the importation of immigrant labour, most of it being Irish, and the opening of an interior portion of eastern Ontario resulted in another wave of settlement in the early to mid nineteenth century.
By the end of this period the portion of Eastern Ontario east of Ottawa along the Ottawa River was still very sparsely settled. Population pressures in Lower Canada and interest by the Catholic Church in maintaining a strong hold in Upper Canada resulted in a large French Canadian immigration to this area in the 1850s, establishing much of the character it retains today.
There has been considerable archaeological work done on historic sites dating to this period. This includes work along the Ottawa River at MacDonnal House, Pinhey Point, and at Fort Wellington, along the Rideau Canal by the Canadian Parks Service and in the Kingston area. Most of this activity has focused on domestic settlements and military establishments. The investigations of the Marmora Iron Works, established during this period, illustrates the expanding interest of archaeologists in understanding early industrial complexes in the region.
Despite the many years of contact with Europeans, the various Ojibwa reserves in Ontario are still thriving communities and maintain many aspects of their previous culture today.
Like the Ojibwa, the Iroquois underwent many changes through history. At various times the Iroquois either were allied to different European groups or fought against them. Ultimately, varying degrees of alliance with different powers undermined the strength of the League and the ill effects of contact, including infectious diseases and alcohol abuse, caused deep rifts between different factions. During the American Revolution some of the League groups fought on the side of the Colonists while others joined the British. When the Americans ultimately won independence, a large group of Iroquois under Joseph Brant moved into Ontario and were given a large tract of land along the Grand River. Although some of this land was ultimately sold to non-Native settlers, this reserve, located within and to the south of present-day Brantford, remains the largest in southern Ontario.
As mentioned earlier, the archaeology of the historic periods plays a different role than does the archaeology of the prehistoric periods. Before the arrival of Europeans in North America, there were no written records to preserve the events of the past. Archaeology, aided by oral traditions and comparisons of preserved cultural traits, provides the only means of discovering how people lived, where they came from and went to, etc. Archaeology is often used today as evidence of long-term occupation in land claims settlements.
The archaeology of the historic period is different, however, in that many of the details of these periods are preserved in written records. The archaeology of these periods, then, is more important as an independent means of checking historical records and, often, as the only means of learning the history of those who were often ignored by historical documents. Up until the last century, for example, only a small number of the wealthy or powerful were literate and the history we know today is often just their version of the events that unfolded. Few details remain of the lifestyles of the poor or isolated, such as early pioneers. Although archaeology is somewhat biased by reliance upon what is preserved in the ground as artifacts and by how this information is retrieved and analyzed, the biases are different than those of historical records and so act as an independent means of assessing this history.
Archaeologists are also able to learn important aspects of peoples lives that may not be as easily obtained by other means. Since archaeology is uniquely able to view people over very long periods of time, it is uniquely able to explore certain aspects of their lifestyles through various kinds of changes. By studying various First Nations groups from the prehistoric to historic periods, for example, archaeology is able to examine how their lifestyles changed during contact with Europeans or, in many ways, how changes were incorporated into traditional lifestyles. Some archaeologists have found, for example, that many European items were readily adopted by First Nations people but were interpreted and employed in ways foreign to the makers of these items. Beads, for example, were usually first given by the Europeans as cheap and amusing trinkets but were often employed by First Nations people as objects of religious and ceremonial importance. This is why they were often employed as burial offerings.
The insights of archaeology are similarly useful in learning about the history of the first settlers in Ontario. Historical archaeologists, for example, have begun to examine how the lifestyles of the first pioneers changed through time. One study in southwestern Ontario, for example, found that while first generation pioneers of different nationalities could be distinguished according to the proportions of animal bones found on their sites, those of second and later generations became more similar and were more influenced by relative wealth and economics.
According to the archaeological record of Ontario, then, the occupation of this region has been long and varied. From the first Ice Age hunters in this region to the builders of Fort York, details of the history of this province are preserved by artifacts buried in the ground. By studying these artifacts, their relationships to each other in the places they are found, and their relationships with often nearly invisible stains or other clues, we are able to slowly reconstruct the events of a long past. Because we are all occupants of Ontario, this past is all of ours to preserve and learn from. Perhaps a fuller understanding of the past will help us to face tomorrow.
This summary of Ontario Archaeology was taken from the Discovering Ontario Archaeology - Speakers Kit. The original texts were written by Jeff Bursey, Hugh Daechsel, Andrew Hinshelwood and Carl Murphy.
INTRODUCTION¦ POST ICE-AGE GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT¦ FIRST PEOPLE OF NORTH AMERICA¦ FIRST PEOPLE OF ONTARIO: THE PALEO-INDIANS¦ THE ARCHAIC PERIOD¦ EARLY WOODLAND PERIOD¦ MIDDLE WOODLAND PERIOD¦ LATE WOODLAND PERIOD¦ THE CONTACT PERIOD¦ THE FRENCH PERIOD (A.D.1650 TO 1763) ¦ THE ENGLISH PERIOD (A.D. 1760 TO 1867)
Designed and Served by Adams Heritage