This was originally published on ActiveHistory.ca
Frequently, when I am ‘up north’ and discussing my research on northeastern Aboriginal peoples during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, I am asked one of two questions: Why were there no Aboriginal people living here? Or, what happened to the Aboriginal people who were here?
The questions are good ones, and reflect the absence of Aboriginal people from general discussion of Muskoka’s (and much of cottage country’s) past. Though it is changing, many of cottage country’s local museums, community websites and history books focus on the arrival of Europeans and creation of the towns with which we are familiar today, leaving the discussion of Native people to a short handful of sentences to mark what took place before Europeans arrived. Aside from Bruce Hodgson and Jamie Benidickson’s The Temagami Experience, which doesn’t exactly focus on the heart of cottage country, and Patricia Blair’s Lament for a First Nation, there are few scholarly monographs or articles that address Aboriginal people in central Ontario. Like in many places across Canada, history in this part of Ontario is told as a veritable clear-cutting of the past where Aboriginal people were replaced by the lumber industry and subsequent European settlement of the region. Continue reading “Aboriginal History in Ontario’s Cottage Country”