Excerpt from a book on the first 100 years in Victoria County —
Source: Victoria County, Ontario Canada Centennial History, Watson Kirkconnell M.A., 1921
Huron Camp Sites in Victoria County, Ontario Canada
The diligent research work of Colonel George E. Laidlaw of Victoria Road has made it possible to set forth a list of fifty-five of these Huron villages. The outstanding difference between these sites and some fifteen others of more recent times lies in the relative scarcity of flints (thus indicating an agricultural life), in the complete absence of iron weapons and other signs of contact with Europeans, and in the great age of the trees which overlay them when first cleared by modern pioneers. Many of these sites are now almost obliterated through long years of cultivation and are only distinguishable by the blackness of the soil in which their ashes are mingled.
The townships of Emily, Ops and Mariposa show no trace of Huron occupation. Whether this absence was actual or whether the present occupants of the soil have failed to report any camp sites to Colonel Laidlaw is uncertain.
For the rest of the county the record stands as follows:
(1). Lot 6, Con. 5, R. Mitchell, owner. This is a large site and overlaps upon adjacent lots.
(2) East one-half Lot 26, con. 5, S. Pogue, owner.
(1). Lot 1, Con. 3, on low ground about 150 yards south of McLaren’s Creek and half a mile west of the Fenelon Road, Messrs. D. Brown and Waldon owners.
(2). Lot 6, Con. 2, on a level bank on the north side of a spring. This is at Cambray village, about three miles from Site No. 1. Owner, Wm. Sinclair.
(3). North one-half Lot 9, Con. 1. A small village site on a point of land jutting west into Goose Lake. Owner, G. R. B. Coates.
(4). Lot 10, Con. 1, east of Goose Lake. Owner, Thos. Douglass.
(5). Lot 12, Con. 1, on the top of a high bank nearly a mile northeast of Goose Lake. This was a large village and has furnished many relics. Owner, Neil Clarke.
(6). East part Lot 21, Con. 1, Alex. McKenzie, owner.
(7). East part southwest one-half Lot 22, Con. 1, D. P. McKenzie, owner.
(8). Lot 23, Con. 1. D. Brown, owner.
(9). West one-half Lot 23, Con. 2, Alex. Jamieson, owner. On this site occurs a strange semicircular embankment, twelve feet wide and two hundred and twenty feet long. The camp lay between this embankment and a small stream about eighty yards to the east. Pioneer legends state this earthwork was thrown up by French traders who came in from Beaverton and were wiped out here by Indian enemies. However, immense pine stumps are found on top of the embankment and definitely put its age back four centuries to a period ‘antedating the discovery of America by Europeans. Its position, dominated by high sandy knolls to the west, even makes defense a dubious explanation for its construction. Another suggestion hints at its use in connection with game drives; but for this its creation would be unnecessarily laborious. Perhaps it was built as a totem mound by descendants of the fugitive Mound builders or by an Iroquoian tribe which had absorbed some of their customs.
(10). Birch Point, Balsam Lake, being broken front 26, Con. 3, Dugald Sinclair, owner.
(11). Perrington’s, Long Point, Balsam Lake, on a hill between West Bay and South Bay.
(12). West part Lot 26, Con. 4, Archibald McArthur, owner.
(13). Lots 14 and 15, Con. 6.
(14). Strowd’s, Lot 18, Con. 6.
(15). Lot 23, Con. 6. Small camp on knoll. Owner, W. F. Smitheram.
(16). Lot 10, Con. 10. Sturgeon Point, on rising ground a few yards west of the township line.
(1). Lot 12, Con. 10, W. Thornbury, owner. Five miles north of Goose Lake.
(2). East half Lot 20, Con. 8, D. McArthur, owner.
(3). Lot 22, Con. 8. Large site on high north bank of Grass River. Owner, Mr. Truman.
(4). Lot 23, Con. 3, W. J. Stanley, owner. A very compact site at the north foot of Logan’s Hill and just south of Butternut Creek.
(5). Lot 41, South Portage Road. Owner, Mr. Brace.
(6). Lots 44 and 45, South Portage Road. Semicircular site on high ground on the south side of the range of hills that lies to the south and east of Kirkfield. Owner, Mr. Macdonald.
(7). South end, Lot 59, South Portage Road. A mile south of Grass River, on the north side of a hill. Owner, Win. Fry.
(8). Lot 54, North Portage Road, Moses Mitchell, owner. Site on a point on the south shore of Mitchell’s Lake.
(9). North end, Lot 56, North Portage Road. Small fishing camp near former exit of Grass River from Mitchell’s Lake.
(1). Lot 1, North Portage Road, Rummerfield Hill.
(2). Heaslip’s Point, Lot 2, Northwest Bay, Balsam Lake.
(3). Head of Portage, Balsam Lake, Block E.
(4). Barrack’s, Block E, Balsam Lake.
(5). West side of Indian Point, Balsam Lake, about three-quarters of a mile from the end. Owner, J. H. Carnegie.
(6). West one-half Lots 5 and 6, Con. 2. Mr. Benson, owner.
(7). Lot 11, Con. 2, H. Southern, owner. Site on crest of small tongue of land running into a swamp.
(8). Lot 9, Con. 3, McKague, owner. Site on bend of Perch Creek.
(9). Lot 5, Con. 5, Corbett’s Hill. Large village strategically placed commanding the divide between Raven Lake and Balsam Lake.
(10). Smith’s, Lot 18, Gull River Range.
(1). Lots 56 and 57, Front Range, G. Rumney, owner. Site on rising ground half a mile east of Big Mud Turtle Lake.
(2). Lot 60, Front Range, a quarter of a mile from the previous
site but on the opposite side of a valley. Owner, Mr. Wallace.
(3). Lots 69, 70 and 71, Front Range, Edward Lee, owner. On
a flat 200-yard ledge, fifty feet above the east shore of Big Mud Turtle Lake.
(1). East half Lots 8 and 9 ,Con. 9, on the south side of Beech Lake.
(2). Lots 11 and 12, Con. 8. Mrs. Staples and G. Winterbourn, owners. This village is about 400 yards from the northern edge of the limestone territory, which ends here in an abrupt escarpment.
(3). Lot 12, Con. 7, David Hilton, owner. This site is about 240 rods northwest of the previous one, and 50 rods east of Head Lake. The same locality was occupied for a second time at a comparatively recent date. All three of the Laxton sites are on the portage trail from Gull River to Head Lake.
(1) Lot 25, Con. 3, F. Reid, owner. This is on the Head River two miles below Head Lake and is on the same canoe route as the Laxton villages.
(1). Lot 6, Con. 10, Patrick Duggan, owner. On high gravelly hill.
(2). Lot 6, Con. 5, F. Whalen, owner.
(3). Lot 18, Con. 4, John Chrysler, owner. This village covered five or six acres in a valley on the east side of Lower Mud Lake.
(4.) Lot 21, Con. 4, close to Lower Mud Lake. Owner, Mr. Boyle,
Thorough search by Col. Laidlaw has failed to reveal any village sites in the granitic regions of Digby, Dalton and Longford. Villages on Lot 2, Con. 11, and Lot 1, Con. 13, Mara Township, are within a mile or two of Lower Mud Lake and were probably closely related to sites Nos. 3 and 4 in Carden.
In addition to the numerous settlements just detailed, there have been listed some forty-eight different localities throughout Victoria County in which Indian relics have been found but in which no ash beds, the only sure proof of a camp site, have been located.
It is instructive to note that nearly all these villages were built at some distance from the main lakes and watercourses. The Huron civilization was based on agriculture and was drawn inland by the more favorable soil found there. The menace of roving enemies always overshadowed them, and to rear a conspicuous or unsheltered camp was to court destruction. For this reason, too, their homes were hidden up some wooded glen, and fenced about with a natural barrier of marsh or hill. Only an occasional fishing hamlet ventured out upon the shore. It was an age of chronic insecurity. Eternal vigilance was the price of existence. Any hour of the day or night might bring the onslaught of a legion of screaming devils.