Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Q? Forest type during the 1600s

I am a little curious about what the forest was like in the 1600s. Today we have only a pocket or two of original forest left. The only one I have been told about is a mosquito laden pocket of swampy cedar woods in one small section of Awenda Provincial Park. Everything else is new growth forest.

  1. So was there a deciduous/coniferous mix? How dense was it? I recall some writer somewhere saying that a squirrel before European contact could climb a tree on the shores of what is now Massachusetts and without touching the ground sashay from tree to tree to the Mississippi River. Or was that poetic license?
  2. Also, what effect did Wendat agriculture have on the forests? As villages cultivated land and as trees were felled for various uses, did the area have a series of denuded ground with the whole process repeated as a village was abandoned and a new village site started.
  3. With 20,000 people in the area, how much land was deforested for agriculture, for wood fires, for wood construction materials?
Can anyone share any good informatin sources for these questions? thanks....Bill

4 comments:

Purelogic said...
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JR said...

There is a statement, I believe in the Relations, that I can not find off hand, that it was easier to get lost in the cornfields than in the forest of Huronia.

Steve said...

I don't know if the area is connected to the Carolignian forests- although when we look at the Relations and read what was used in building villages- we can tell that there was cedar and elm in the area. When the region was deforested in the 19th century, I believe white pine was abundant. There was a re- forestation program in the region in 1955 sponsored by the US and Canadian governments to stop farm runoff from entering the Severn Bay. SO many trees that we have now are from that period. I think the Jesuits also brought some seeds with them- cherry comes to mind.
Ragueneau speaks of how they had entered a region that has "not known the axe"- a Garden of Eden as it were. Of course, growing cornfields would probably mean a controlled burning of the land by the inhabitants. Since Huronia has a high sand content- it would be necessary to see what species would exist in this soil condition. I think the Wye Marsh could help in that. Maybe we should include their input in the HHA.