Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How narrow were the Narrows?

On another read through A F Hunter's "Notes on Huron villages of Oro township" he mentions the water level of Lake Simcoe as being 700' above sea level and that got me wondering what they were in the 1600s. First I decided to check the current water level and was surprised to learn that it averages about 720' above sea level today. The water levels rose as a result of the development of the Trent Severn waterway and the insulation of the locks and dams that control its flow. Each year there is a delicate balance sought between maintaining sufficient water levels for safe boating while at the same time controlling flooding of the surrounding lowlands.
There are some local stories that say that the Narrows was shallow enough to be walked across and with a drop of 20 feet this is quite believable in parts of the Narrows. As part of the development of safe boating routes a channel was dredged on the Orillia side of the the Narrows thus creating a boating channel on the west and leaving the shallow ancient fishing channel on the east with a reed covered marshy island in the middle north of the railway and highway bridge that now crosses between Orillia and Atherley.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Silver Creek cluster

Influenced be my re read of Champlain as noted in a previous post I have moved northwest of the Narrows (Orillia) in search of the next interesting cluster of sites. This cluster of sites is located north of the Division Rd, South of the Warminster Rd and best accessed either side of the Burnside Line to the west and the Carlyon Line to the east in what is now Severn township. There are 10 archaeological sites that I am aware of within this area scattered over lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 in concession 4, 5 and 6. According to A F Hunter there is a trail that runs by or through these sites leading from further north down to the Orillia area and intersecting with a trail to the Narrows (Coldwater Rd). This trail follows a ridge that may have made it possible to see the "small lake" (Lake Couchiching) referred to by Champlain as they travelled southeast toward the Narrows. Another field trip to this area might be warranted to see what vistas of Lake Couchiching may or may not exist as one travels along or close to this route.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

So what's in a name?

While looking further into the territory of the Ahrendarrhonon and how many villages that they would have lived in at any given time I came upon an interesting statement by Bruce Trigger - "the Ahrendarrhonon (sometimes called the Contarearonon), who lived still further east......." (1969 pg 13). Trigger does not state where he derived this from but if true we see the name of one of the two village contained within a context that would normally refer to a tribe of the Huron. Contarearonon would be generally translated as "people of Contarea" This further reinforces to me that the Ahrendarrhonon had but one main or principle village at any given time and were in fact identified by the name of their village when referencing the entire tribe.
Knowing where Trigger got this reference to Contarearonon would help idendify the time frame in which it was used. It does not appear in Champlain's works, I have yet to find it in Sagard's nor has it surfaced in my reading of the Jesuit Relations (at least not under that spelling).
If anyone can assist me in finding this reference it would be most appreciated.

Friday, April 09, 2010

So just what lake did Champlain pass by on his way to the Narrows?

If we read the following text of Champlain (as written in 1619 about his 1615 expedition) just what lakes is he describing and therefore in what direction should we be looking for Cahiague?

"The greater portion of our men having assembled, we set out from the village on the first day of September, and passed along the shore of a small lake, distant three leagues from the village, where they catch large quantities of fish, which they preserve for the winter. There is another lake, closely adjoining, which is twenty−five leagues in circuit, and slows into the small one by a strait, where the above mentioned extensive fishing is carried on. This is done by means of a large number of stakes which almost close the strait, only some little openings being left where they place their nets, in which the fish are caught. These two lakes discharge into the Mer Douce."

Photos from the April 8th meeting with Dr. Martha Latta

L to R. Jamie Hunter, Dr. Martha Latta and her husband

some shots from the evening: