Friday, April 08, 2011

Where I place Toanche

Otoüacha was most likely the port that served the communities of the Bear Nation (Attignawantan) of the Wendat Confederacy that inhabited the northern peninsula of what we now know as Tiny Township. When we take Champlain’s last seven leagues into consideration I place Otoüacha somewhere between Sawlog Bay and Cedar Point most likely just east of Methodist Point near the beaches of Awenda Park. Methodist Point would have been a prominent landmark and provided a sheltering break from the prevailing northwest winds of this area. It is obvious from some translations of this name (ref) and later historical references (JR-Brebeuf) that this port served more than one village and was not in itself a village. Champlain seems to have viewed the landing place and the village as one place but this is probably incorrect as it was the practice of the Wendat to build their villages inland from the shore as they were an agriculturally based society that took advantage the vast plateaus of sandy loam that exist all over northern Simcoe County to plant their corn and other crops.

“…we arrived in the country of the Attigouautan at a village called Otoüacha on the first day of August. Here we found a great change in the country. It was here very fine, the largest part being cleared up, and many hills and several rivers rendering the region agreeable. I went to see their Indian corn, which was at that time far advanced for the season.”

From Otoüacha we assume that Champlain was taken up the ridge to the village of Toanche that was a short distance inland and known today by archaeologists as the Gwynne site (BfHa-1a). If you have walked the trails of Awenda Park and followed them down to the beach you will most likely have walked through the village of Toanche and the land on which Ontario’s first European tourists spent their first nights.

(copied from a yet to be published booklet - "Champlains' Guide to Huronia")

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