Monday, November 27, 2006

OAS Chapter in the Works.

It's been 4 months since I last posted on this blog and much has happened since then. Perhaps the most notable activity has been the steps taken to create a chapter of the OAS here in Huronia. The OAS has acknowledged our desire to form a chapter here and the paperwork is in the process of being completed, a charter developed and plans being made for our first general meeting. We are attempting to complete the bureaucractic part of the process without involving too many people whose time and talents might better be served when areas of their interest need attention. Don't worry, those not involved to date haven't missed anything.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Current dig in Huronia

I have recently had the opportunity to visit one of the current archaeological digs happening this summer in Huronia. The dig is being sponsored by Laurentian University as part of their archaeology program and is located at what is called the Thompson-Walker site on the 9th line of Medonte. I know it as A F Hunters site # 46.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Site Identification

After the process of site location and protection through registration is underway the next priority might well be identification of these sites by name. A E Jones makes an admirable attempt at this process and given the resources at his disposal at the time his triangulation theory was not a bad idea. His analyses of each village name in order to find reference to its location or geography is well beyond my capabilities in linguistics and can be left to others to review. I don't speak or read French, failed miserably in Latin and have a hard enough time with my native language as may be noted by my spelling. Jones did however do what I have wanted to attempt and that is put the various villages that are mentioned in the Champlain, Sagard and the Relations into order and position based on the numerous trips and resulting itineraries of the explorers and priests.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

From Research to Action

I have spent the last few days pulling together the results of my research to date and have found a way to put it to work. My list of sites in Tiny, Tay, Oro-Medonte now totals 303 and I have yet to add Severn twp or those site to the south in Springwater. I have finished reading A E Jones and adding his sites to those of A F Hunter and others. Most of the Jones sites are duplicates of Hunter's but he attempts to place village and mission names with more certainty than Hunter and with little or no reference to the archeology. His most substantial disagreement with Hunter comes with the location of St Louis and hence with St Ignace. He also differs with Hunter and others on his location of St Joseph.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Opportunity for Repatriation?

When ossuaries such as the ones at Elliot's Corner are part of the public record and protected one would assume under the Cemeteries Act and there is evidence that their contents have become parts of collections such as Dr Bawtree's or Dr Tache's how difficult would it be to have these remains and artifacts returned to where they belong.
We know that Dr Tache collection went to LaVal University but they claim not to be able to find it. I'm not sure what happened to the Bawtree collection but it would be interesting to try and tract it down and if the Wendat were interested and willing perhaps at least some of these sacred remains and artifacts could be taken out of the museums, universities and private collection and reburied in their proper place.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Elliotts Corner & Ste Louis?

Steve mentioned the site of a bonepit he was aware of behind the firehall on Old Fort Rd. I have noted that this site corresponds to A F Hunter's site # 10, as the east 1/2 of lot 10 Conc 3 Tay. I have copied to this post part of Hunter's notes and see a reference to Ste Louis that caught my attention. (enlarge to read)
I have also noted on review of this area that there is a known ossuary in Candlelight Village just west of here on the west 1/2 of lot 10 Conc 3 Tay described by Hunter as his site # 11 and also that on the east 1/2 of lot 9 Conc 3 Tay (Hunter site 12 Tay).

Thursday, June 29, 2006

OAS Chapter?

I met with another interested party today. Mr Michael Henry of AMICK Consultants with offices in Port McNicoll. We talked about a number of issues relating to site protection and identification but perhaps the most timely was his current efforts to establish a chapter of the Ontario Archeological Society in this area. This chapter could be the vehicle that would be able to bring all interested parties together under a credible umbrella. This would negate the need to form yet another association that appears to be having difficulty getting traction.
I have dusted off my membership application for the OAS and would encourage others who are not already members to check out the organization and consider joining aswell. The more members that they have in this area the better chance there is that a chapter could be formed.

Just a Discussion Group

I have included in this post some correspondence that is perhaps overdue and I have changed the title and intro of this blog accordingly. I may have to send out new invites to join and or post so let me know if you are having difficulty.

Dear John,

I think it's time to be clear that there is no Huronia Historical Association.

Instead what is taking place is that you are acting without consulting with anyone else. Without asking for consensus you are representing yourself as the leader of an association. And I recall, yes, you saying what is an association. That seems a little disingenuous. For me an association is a formal or semi-formal group of people who have agreed to act together under some sort of agreed upon rules. That has not happened. Maybe an organizing meeting should take place, maybe not.

Site Protection

I met yesterday with Gary French, a lawyer from Elmvale who has a great interest in and has contributed a great deal to the preservation of Huronia's Heritage. I approached Gary with my frustration over the level of protection currently afforded heritage sites as noted in a previous post and queried as to the value of having known Huron sites regisered on property title. I was quickly advised that this has already been attempted and that the Provincial Registrar will not consider this unless it affects property ownership.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ste. Ignace revisited

As is obvious from some previous posts, I have had questions about the validity of the sites currently marked as Ste Louis and Ste Ignace. On the advice of others I read S W Fox's book Saint Ignace-Canadian Alter of Martyrdom. This book is designed to be the definitive proof of the validity of the current site marked as Ste Ignace ll. In the process of reading this book I was advised by a local expert on Historic Huronia's to read an article titled 'The Search for St-Ignace ll" by Martha A Latta published in Ontario Archaeology #48 in 1988. This article references a reinvestigation of the site in 1975 directed by William Russell and a field party consisting of Allan Tyyska, Roberta O'Brien and Jamie Hunter. As a result of these findings and questions raised by other prominent archaeologists Latta raises serious doubt about not only the validity of this site being that of Ste. Ignace ll but the validity of the site itself as a historic Huron village of the time period relevant to the events of March 16th-20th 1649.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Site Locations.

I had a brief meeting yesterday with Ian Bender, the chief planner for Simcoe County. In that exchange I expressed my interest in the identification and protection of the native village sites in Simcoe County and sought clarification as to how the process works. I expressed my concern that the current process and legislation do not afford sufficient protection for these sites and that another situation such as the ossuary found in Little Lake Park Midland was bound to occur again if more is not done soon to protect these sites.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ste Marie Revisited

I when to visit Ste Marie with a new set of eyes this past weekend. For the past 20+ years I have visited as a tourist, an educator and a guest at numerous events. This time I went as a student of Huronia.
Why is the site we see not the site as seen and excavated people like Kenneth Kidd?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why were there no horses?

In reading all the material about Historic Huronia and for that matter New France I can't recall any mention of horses.
The Spanish, if I recall brought horses over to Central America, why did the French or for that matter the British or Dutch not bring horses to the New World in the 1600's.
It would appear that the French and Jesuits managed to bring all the other animals of Old MacDonald's farm up to Ste. Marie, why not a horse?
Think of how much easier or at least quicker travel would have been between missions if they had.
When did the first horse arrive in Huronia? Who brought it and how?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

St. Louis items - Huronia Museum only place

I had a conversation yesterday with Jamie Hunter, Huronia Museum in Midland, about St. Louis. I asked where one could go to see materials excavated from the site. Royal Ontario Museum? University of Western Ontario? Simcoe County Museum? Penetanguishene Centennial Museum? Nope. The only place and it is a good place to visit for many other reasons to see items from St. Louis is the Huronia Museum in Midland, Ontario. Beads, wampum shells, arrow heads (notched and unnotched) and clear signs of long European contact (nails, hinges).

Clearly when in the area, you MUST visit the Huronia Museum, in Midland, Ontario.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Wikipedia articles

I took a look at Wikipedia to see what it offered. I found a few articles. I also found some gaps. Something someone might want to consider addressing.

no Wikipedia article on Huronia or Ste. Marie Among the Hurons.

There is an article on Samuel Champlain, but very little about his visit to Huronia.

I have no experience writing or editing a Wikipedia article. If you look at one of the articles, be sure to look at the tabs on the top of the article: "article" "discussion" "edit" "history".

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Public Awarness

I received the following email from a friend of mine in Barrie who is involved in the Simcoe County Plaquing program.
" Thanks. I got it O.K. and have just skimmed through it. What a lot of information is included!
Right now, I can't think of any information I could add, but I sure can learn a lot from what is there. I am very much interested in the Huron Missions, and all that took place in Huronia after Champlain's arrival. But my information is second hand, as I have not had time available to do original research.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

OT 400 years

You know this is completely off topic to this blog's central focus, but today as I was standing at St. Louis, it occurred to me that given the current lack of progress in dealing with "modern" man's pollution of the earth whether someone will be able to stand on this same spot in 2406 or 2449.

St. Louis - photos

Well, it is not impossible to find after all. The better way to get there is to turn south off Hwy 12 at Reeves Rd and drive south to Granny White's Side Road and turn left (East) and drive about 200 metres. You will see on the left or north side of the road a very badly faded blue historic site sign. Turn left (north) immediately at this sign. There are gates but they were open today. I have no idea when they are closed. As has been pointed out, take that immediate turn, just a few feet further to the east is a private drive and you don't want to go in there.

Two reports, Same event?

It is obvious after reading the account from Father Ragueneau and the one from the shoemaker Christophe Regnault that they were reporting on the same event one the same date from the same place, but what about the discrepancy in distances as they relate to Ste Louis. Father Ragueneau says that the village was less than 1 league from Ste Marie. The shoemaker says a short 1/4 league.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Father Ragueneau's account of Ste Ignace

THE progress of the Faith kept increasing from day to day, and the blessings of Heaven were flowing down in abundance upon these peoples, when God chose to derive from them his glory in ways which are adorable, and which belong to the jurisdiction of his divine providence,—although they have been very severe for us, and were not in our expectations.
The 16th day of March in the present year, 1649, marked the beginning of our misfortunes,—if, however, that be a misfortune which no doubt has been the salvation of many of God's elect.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Will This Map Help?

This is the map that most historians use as their reference document for finding Huron and Catholic sites. How I wish they had GPS devices! Good luck Bill. This map was an insert in a larger map produced in 1660. There are others such as one credited to Brebeuf but not verified, and non that I am aware of that show more detail or more accuracy that can be used as primary source material.

Where are These Villages?

The following is an account of the events of March 16th 1649 that make these site of historic significance and sacred ground to the Catholic Church;

"A veritable Account of the Martyrdom and Blessed death of Father Jean de Brebeuf and of Father Gabriel L'Alemant, in New France, in the country of the Hurons, by the Iroquois, enemies of the Faith.
Father Jean de Brebeuf and Father Gabriel L'Alemant had set out from our cabin, to go to a small Village, called St. Ignace, distant from our cabin about a short quarter of a League, to instruct the Savages and the new Christians of that Village.

St Ignace II

St. Ignace II Huron Village and Jesuit Mission 1648-49, probable site of St. Ignace II overrun and destroyed by the Iroquois March 16-19, 1649; St. Jean de Brebeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant were martyred here March 16-17, 1649.

St. Louis and St. Ignace II Road Signs - a little inconsistent

This morning I took a few minutes to try and take some photos at St. Louis and St. Ignace II. The curious part is that while there is no highway marker on Hwy 12 for St. Ignace II (at least that I saw), there is a marker along the road to indicate where to turn in. The reverse is true for St. Louis. As you head west past Victoria Harbour, a sign says St. Louis 2 km. Another sign indicates a left turn off the highway. And then there is no more signage. If I have missed them, and someone knows whereof they are, please post a comment to that effect. Thanks.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

More on Water Levels

This is an interesting chart that shows levels back to 1870. It indicates to me that over that 136 years the highs have not been as high and the lows have been lower. The trend if there is one would show a general drop of about 3ft over that period of 136 years. If that trend were projected back to 1639 or 367 yrs that would mean a total sustained drop of over 8ft since that time.
Hunter and Kidd appear to have been measuring at low ebbs on the cycle and hence there estimates of 10-12ft may seem extreme to some.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sagard's travels in Huronia 1623-24

This in an interesting interpretation of Sagard's travels and the villages he visited or mentioned in his first book Long Voyage into the Land of the Huron. Note that his arrival in this author's understanding was via Penetang Bay east of Copeland Creek and Liligan Lake where there are numerous recorded village and ossuary sites. Note also Champlain's travels and villages that he visited 8 years prior to Sagard. Did they visit the same villages?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Champlain's Travel in Huronia Aug-Sept 1615

In Champlain's words;

After crossing a bay, which forms one of the extremities of the lake, [119] we went some seven leagues until we arrived in the country of the Attigouautan at a village called Otoüacha, on the first day of August. (1615)

The next day (Aug 2nd1615) I went to another village, called Carmaron, a league distant from this, where they received us in a very friendly manner, making for us a banquet with their bread, squashes, and fish. As to meat, that is very scarce there. The chief of this village earnestly begged me to stay, to which I could not consent, but returned to our village, where on the next night but one, as I went out of the cabin to escape thefleas, of which there were large numbers and by which we were tormented, a girl of little modesty came boldly to me and offered to keep me company, for which I thanked her, sending her away with gentle remonstrances, and spent the night with some savages.

two crosses at Carhagouha (First Mass Site)

To reduce the slight confusion I introduced by posting two separate photos of the crosses at the site, here is a photo showing both.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Carhagouha - 1615 site of first Mass in Ontario

August 12, 1615 first Mass celebrated in Ontario by Father Joseph LeCaron in the presence of Samuel Champlain. There are two crosses that mark this site.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How Long a Trip Was It?

It would appear from reading Champlain and Sagard that most trips up to Huronia in their time originated at Three Rivers or points west between there and Montreal Island where trade sites had been established. Most trips appeared to have taken about 30 days including a couple of short stopovers with people like the Nippissing. In most cases it would appear that the French landed at the villages of the people with whom they were traveling. This may have been preplanned from the outset or just happenstance but one would assume that if you planned to visit the Bear Nation, you would travel with people of that Nation as the landing places servicing the principle villages of these Nations were many leagues apart. The Rock Nation and the Bear for example were situated some 50 km distant overland from each other. This would not be a distance taken lightly should one get dropped off in an unintended destination.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Where is Carhagouha

According to the landmarks in Tiny Township Carhagouha is located just east of the lot line between lots 20 and 21 in Conc. 17 and accessible from Conc. Rd 18 at the intersection of the Cedar Pt. Rd. It is marked by a large cross that commemorates the first mass in Ontario that was conducted by Récollet Father Joseph Le Caron and witnessed by Samuel de Champlain along with a dozen or so Frenchmen (probably including Etienne Brule) and a few natives of the Northern Bear Nation of the Wendat Confederacy.
Was this the place?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Q? post 1651 - recommend essential texts if you would

Outside our main focus but still history of Huronia.....

1651-1900 what are the essential books to read?

see this link:

for an online exhibit at the Ontario Archives about 17th and 18th century French Ontario

Q? essential reading list

What are your recommendations for an essential reading list of the history of Huronia, focused 1615-1651?

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Tiny bit of interest.

Had a great meeting this evening with the Tiny Township Heritage Committee. They appear to share many of our goals and objectives and I would anticipate a strong working relationship with them when it comes to building an inventory of sites and the preservation of this valued history in their area.
The have a particular current interest in Carhagouha and perhaps someone can create a post on information regarding this site, its authenticity and its history. I believe the ownership was recently transferred from the Knights of Columbus to the Shrine. Was a village site ever found here? Have excavations ever been done?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Canals and Water Level.

This site plan of Ste Marie l done by Rev Hallen in 1852 shows the large trench or canal flowing freely to the Wye River and probably fed by the smaller North South trench directing the spring water from the hill where the Shrine now sits. I believe that the "canal" was filled with river water and the other drainage ditches flowed into it. I doubt that there were any locks as suggested by Jury. They would not have been required if the Wye River (Georgian Bay) water levels were up by 10-12ft over current levels.
The current program at the Ste Marie site leaves the question of the canal as a loading and docking area for the canoes up to the imagination of the visitor. I would think that this is an important enough feature of this local to warrant further science in an effort to provide a more definitive interpretation.

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

Q? Water levels of Georgian Bay in the 1600s

I was reading a newspaper article recently about local water levels and was wondering about the cycle of water level during the Ste. Marie period. Can someone point me to the commentary on the height of the Wye River at the Ste. Marie site. Someone in conversation suggested that it was 10-12 feet higher than today. This might have implications regarding the location of some villages. It might also affect line of sight between Ste. Marie and the burning village as decribed regarding the death of Brebeuf and Lalemant. Thanks...Bill

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Martyrs' Shrine web site page - Archives

see - Archives page at

some fascinating information and links on this page...regards, Bill

Huronia Historical Association- Mandate

The following is what I would like to propose as the mandate of the association. I might be possible to organize the posts under the various headings in the mandate?

Huronia Historical Association

Dedicated to the discovery and preservation of the earliest recorded history of “Old Wendake” in the geographic area now known as “Huronia”.
  • Compile the historical record from existing primary and secondary source worksfrom local libraries, museums, universities and private collections.
  • Map the historical geography with reference to both events and specific locations andmark sites along with historic trails and indicate events appropriately.

Globalization and Huronia historical Association

Hi- thought I would open some future possiblities with this blog, the association and for the Huronia area. I am thinking of attracting universities/NGO's to the area by developing symposiums on Colonization and Globalization- Learning from History. Conferences could be held in the area and participants can visit the relevant sites, have presentations given by native leaders/communities in the area etc.. There was a Jesuit at the Shrine last year working on the effects of Globalization with the UN and I think the missionary work of the region during the 17th century may have something to offer scholars and social activists. The HHA could be a liason for the various groups represented.
archivist, Martyrs' Shrine

Ghost Empire by Philip Marchand - bibliography

a small test.....I have set up on my own website a page that contains the bibliography from Marchand's book that I thought was worth typing into my computer.

so that page has the bibliography, and this test post has a link to that page.

We could alternatively copy and paste the biblography text into a post here on this blog.

there are reasons pro and con to do it one way or the other. I don't know what they all are yet. : )

Marchand, Ghost Empire

Ghost Empire, Philip Marchand

Ghost Empire by Philip Marchand, subtitle: How the French Almost Conquered North America, 2005, McClelland and Stewart.

A copy of this is on the shelves at the Midland Public Library.

Marchand describes a lot of things in this work. He writes about La Salle and his various expeditions. He visits these sites in Michigan, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas. Along the way he examines his roots as a Franco-American in Massachusetts, the pockets of French descended Americans along La Salle's routes, professional and amateur historians, re-enactors, and the near total absence of the French from historical awareness.

I enjoyed the book a great deal.

tell me about Leagues?

I understand that in there is some possibility of confusion around distances measured in leagues. How long was a league in the 1600s?

invitations sent out to people to become "Team Members"

I sent out emails to a few people who have expressed interest in the proposed Huronia Historical Association.

Currently I have set up this blog so that any user can add comments or post. Down the road to avoid spamming and other nonsense we might want to limit the ability to add posts and comments to Team Members only.

This blog is free and is supported by Google.

Once again this is a test to see if we want to use something like this for our discussion purposes. So this is set up to test and try out features and then after a test period, perhaps a month, we can stop the test and clean up the blog and start fresh with new "for real" content or start a new blog and carry forward from there.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

photo test shows Ste. Marie Block House

Block House, Ste. Marie Among the Hurons, near Midland, Ontario, Canada

Ste. Marie Among the Hurons

Champlain landing note (J.C.W. Armstrong, Champlain)

Notes p. 301 for page 163 The Champlain Landfall in Huronia

"The accepted view is that Otoucha is the same word as Toanche, meaning the “double landing place,” which, incidentally is not to be confused with the location of the present-day community of Toanche. Rather, it was most likely that Champlain landed at the double sided promontory of Methodist Point in Awenda Provincial Park. However, pinpointing Champlain at any specific spot in Huronia is like trying to life globules of mercury with a fork. With rare exception, it is impossible to pinpoint any of the locations of Indian villages Champlain visited on today’s map simply because there are no remaining demographic landmarks. According to archaelogical expertise, Huronia at this time in the seventeenth century had the largest concentration of Indians anywhere in North America (now estimated to have been about 20,000), but most Huron villages moved any time after a period of ten years and one record suggests there were as many as four hundred villages in the region.

Where is Toanche

The Earth Beneath Our Feet

As owners and operators of a B&B in Perkinsfield my wife and I were informed by the Chamber of Commerce of an event to take place regarding the voyages of Samuel de Chamlain and his “discovery” of “Huronia.”
While there is some good evidence that Chamlain did arrive on these shores August 1st 1615, there is little to support where and on what shores he described in his writings. (Voyages of Champlain) and it is obvious that he wasn’t first as he met Father Joseph Le Caron at a native village where a cabin was already being built for him.

Huronia Historical Test blog introductory posting

This is a test to explore the possibility of using a blog to foster discussion surrounding the interests of a proposed historical association, the Huronia Historical Association. This assoc. is aimed at a select range of history in the Huronia area. The Huronia area corresponds closely to the Simcoe County region of south central Ontario in Canada.