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Iroquois origins of modern Toronto and Aboriginal Burial Mounds

CN Tower

CN Tower - Toronto

Toronto, Ontario, Canada is an attractive, vibrant and ever expanding 21st Century city. Financial center, multi-cultural, with sophisticated entertainment, fine dining & home to NHL, NBA and Al sporting franchises, it is generally acknowledged to be among one of the top ten cities of the world to live in.

Overlooked in this evaluation is the fact that the city is physically built on the foundations of a community established by the indigenous people of the North American continent.

Hopewell Network A people whose communities and territories stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the northern regions of Canada as well as from Coast to Coast.

Communities whose origins stretch back over three millenia.

Hopewell Network map

The French fact in North America saw the commencement of the colonization of these regions. In 1793, Jean Baptiste Rousseau established a fur-trade outpost on the east bank of what is now known as the Humber River, adjacent to the Iroquois village called Teiaiagon (now Baby Point).

Taiaiacon Plaque This village was established sometime in the 1660's or 1670's, along with another Iroquois village called Ganatsekwyagon, at the Lake Ontario mouth of what is now called the Rouge River. Both villages guarded access points to the Toronto Carrying Place Portage to Lake Simcoe, and Georgian Bay.

click to enlarge; photo courtesy of: | Toronto Historical Plaques |

In any long view, it was the Iroquois trading villages of Teiaiagon and Ganatsekwyagon, perhaps as many as 130 years before Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, that planted the very first seeds of modern Toronto.

As noted above, these villages and communities had established lines of communications and trading patterns that were transcontinental in scope. Communities whose existence dates as far back in time as the Celtic tribes of Europe and the British Isles. This dates them back to Stonehenge and beyond. It should come as little surprise that the archaelogical evidence of these communities should be apparent in the the landscape of Toronto. What is a surprise is how little veneration or respect is accorded to these landmarks of the past.

High Park Mound

High Park Burial Mound

A case in point is the destruction and desecration facing the burial mounds of the Iroquois peoples that are to be found throughout the GTA. These same paleo-archaeological constructs in other countries would be considered national treasures.

Poulnabrone Dolmen - Co:Clare
For example, in Ireland the burial chambers and the Megalithic stone monuments of the Celtic forebears are the source of national pride. Any visit to Ireland that overlooks a trip to Newgrange or the Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare is less than complete.

In Toronto, several of these same archaeological features which date back two thousand years or more, have been turned into bicycle ramps and jumps and unfortunately have become the targets of cultural disdain.

High Park Map of Mounds

Poulnabrone Dolmen - County Clare

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in High Park in the western area of Toronto. There are several burial mounds in High Park that have been recognized for almost a century, as being artifacts of importance created by the indigenous peoples inhabiting the region long before European explorers (French or English) arrived here.

Map of High Park

Orr Report on Burial Mounds

1922 Orr Report - Click to enlarge

A burial mound of similar provenance in the USA located in Miamisburg, Ohio,is a national monument.

In High Park, similar Burial Mounds have been turned into a BMX obstacle course.

Snake Mound in HP

Snake Mound - High Park

One does not have aborginal blood lines to be distressed by such insensitive and destructive activity. These sites are part of our national heritage regardless of ethnicity. They deserve respect and protection from damage and desecration

Of major interest to the residents of Baby Point is the presence of an Aboriginal Burial Mound in the immediate vicinity of Baby Point Road and Humbercrest Rd.

Thunderbird Mound in BPt The "Thunderbird Burial Mound" is opposite 2 Varsity Rd. on the north bank of the Humber River ravine at the bottom of the hill on St. Mark's Rd. This Burial Mound is also under threat from erosion and physical intrusion by visitors hiking & biking through the Magwood Park area.

The recent activities taken by Taiaiako'n Historical Preservation Society to protect these sites from further destruction is deserving of recognition and public support by the residents of the GTA and their elected officers.

Thunderbird Mound - click to enlarge

Web site of Taiaiako'n Historical Preservation Society | Taiaiakon Protection Society |
Article on High Park Burial Mounds & BMX's | Inside Toronto |

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