History of the Bruce Peninsula
History of the Bruce Peninsula
The Bruce Peninsula is rich in history. The peninsula was formed 400 million years ago - and native histories go back 1000's of years. Settlers "discovered" the Bruce peninsula in the mid 1900s, and cottagers discovered the bBruce in the 1920s
- Natural History
- Native History
A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE BRUCE PENINSULA
Up until the mid-1800s, the area known as the Bruce Peninsula was territory controlled the Saugeen Ojibway Nations. The nations included the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation(Cape Croker) and Chippewas of Saugeen Unceded First Nation (Chippewa Hill). Archeological evidence from the area suggests that approximately 2500 years ago that the peninsula was occupied by the Odawa. Oral history from Saugeen & Nawash suggests their ancestors have been here as early as 7500 years ago. The area of Hope Bay is known to natives as Nochemoweniing, or Place of Healing.
The Saugeen Ojibway signed a treaty with Sir Francis Bond Head in 1836 for lands south of the peninsula in exchange for proper housing, assistance in becoming “civilized” and for permanent protection of the peninsula. In 1854, the Saugeen Ojibway were pushed into signing another treaty – this time for the peninsula. The Saugeen Ojibway launched a land claim for part of their traditional territory in 1994 – claiming breach of trust by the crown in failing to meet its treaty obligations to protect Aboriginal lands. The claim seeks the return of lands still held by the Crown and financial compensation for other lands. This claim is still active – it has yet to be resolved.
European settlement began on the peninsula in the mid 1800s. Attracted by the rich fisheries and lush forest, settlers found the land known then as the “Indian or Saugeen Peninsula” to be irresistible. In 1881 – the first sawmill appeared on the peninsula in Tobermory. In less than 20 years most of the valuable timber was gone. Fueled by the waste left behind by the rapid logging and land clearances – intense fires sprung up around the peninsula. By the mid 1920’s the beautiful forest rich land of the peninsula was nearly barren. When the lamprey eel was introduced to the Great Lakes in 1932 – the devastation on the fish supply made the peninsula a less attractive place for settlers, and many left for “better pastures” The peninsula would continue a steady decline in population until the 1970s. The peninsula did start to attract a new kind of settler – the cottager. Today – seasonal residents out-number permanent residents.
The beauty of the Niagara Escarpment – with it’s spectacular cliffs, the rare and wonderful orchids and other fauna and flora, the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay & Lake Huron, the caves, shipwrecks – all these have made the Bruce Peninsula a haven for tourists. Recreation & tourism are now the top industry in the region. Forest is now protected, and the Niagara Escarpment Commission controls the rugged shoreline from over-development. Tourists and travelers also navigate through the peninsula to ride the Chi-Cheemaun ferry, which ferries passengers to and from Manitoulin Island. This ferry carries on average 260,000 passengers a year. The original ferry – the Kagawong, could only carry 8 vehicles per trip!
NATURAL HISTORY OF THE NIAGARA ESCARPMENT
The Niagara Escarpment is recognized as one of the world's unique natural wonders. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named Ontario's Escarpment a World Biosphere Reserve in 1990. This designation recognizes the Niagara Escarpment as an internationally significant ecosystem for its special environment and unique environmental plan. Essentially, it is a landform -- a ridge of rock several hundred metres high in some locations -- stretching 725 kilometres (450 miles) from Queenston on the Niagara River to Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Today, in Ontario, the Escarpment contains more than 100 sites of geological significance including some of the best exposures of rocks and fossils of the Silurian and Ordovician Periods (405 to 500 million years old) to be found anywhere in the world.
The Niagara Escarpment has origins dating back into geological history some 430 to 450 million years, a time when the area lay under a shallow warm sea. This sea lay in a depression of the earth's crust, the centre of which is now the State of Michigan. Now geologically known as the Michigan Basin, the outer rim of this massive saucer-shaped feature governs the location of the Niagara Escarpment. In the shape of a gigantic horseshoe the Escarpment can be traced from near Rochester, New York, south of Lake Ontario to Hamilton, north to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula, beneath the waters of Lake Huron to appear again on Manitoulin Island, across northern Michigan and down the west side of Lake Michigan into the State of Wisconsin.
As occurs with present day water bodies such as Hudson Bay or the Gulf of Mexico, rivers flowing into this ancient sea carried sand, silt and clay to be deposited as thick layers of sediment. At the same time lime-rich organic material from the abundant sea life was also accumulating. Over millions of years these materials became compressed into massive layers of sedimentary rocks and ancient reef structures now visible along the Escarpment. Some rock layers now consist of soft shales and sandstones while others are made up of dolostone (a rock similar to limestone which contains magnesium and is more durable).
Today, fossil remains illustrating the various life forms can be found in many of the rocks as they are slowly exposed by the action of wind, water and ice.
Information used with permission from the Niagara Escarpment Commission
NATURAL HISTORY OF THE ALVARS
On the Bruce Peninsula alvars are located along the western shore and on the flat points and peninsulas of the Georgian Bay shore.
The limestone bedrock associated with alvar communities was formed in warm, shallow tropical seas between 460 and 370 million years ago. More recently, glacial action has shaped the Great Lakes region, forming the landscapes we see today. The Wisconsin glaciation, beginning around 65,000 years ago, was the most recent and most influential in creating the alvars of today.
The Bruce Peninsula area offers outstanding examples of alvars, a globally threatened habitat type that supports many rare and endangered species. Worldwide, alvars are only found in the eastern European Baltic region and in the North American Great Lakes basin. Ontario is home to almost 75 per cent of the Great Lakes alvars. Most types of alvar communities are globally imperiled, and they support several globally rare species as well. Unfortunatly - it can be the people who love the alvars the most that are the most distructive. The alvar is a very sensitive area, and caution should be taken when walking as the rare microsystem can be damaged very easily.
Recently - it has been discovered that the alvars n the Bruce Peninsula contain some old growth trees - the twisted, gnarled ancient cedar trees which are between 300 and 500 years old!
Alvars also contain unique and rare plant life. The alvars of the peninsula are notable for their arctic-alpine species such as wild chives, red anemone and alpine bluegrass. One of the rarest of alvar plants is the yellow - flowered Hymenoxys herbacea - the Lakeside Daisy. Ram's Head Orchids, and indian Paintbrushes are also seen in the alvar. In addition to vascular plants, alvars support many other life forms that possess the hardiness needed to survive in an environment of extremes. Lichens are much more abundant in alvars than in surrounding woodlands. As well, a number of mosses and lichens occurring on alvars are quite rare in the Great Lakes region. Some 46 kinds of algae have been identified from sites on the Bruce Peninsula. But that’s not even scratching the surface. One slimy ball of algae was estimated to contain hundreds of species!
One very important resisent of the peninsula alvars is the eastern Massassaga rattlesnake. They spends their days lying on the stone that obsorbes the suns heat. They do give plenty of warning with their rattle, and hikers can move away from them in time.
Information sourced from a wonderful article online at the Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation - This was compiled by Anthony Goodban, based on research from the International Alvar Conservation Initiative.
NATIVE HISTORY OF THE BRUCE PENINSULA
At one time, both by oral history and archaeological evidence, all of the modern Bruce Peninsula (or the "Saugeen Peninsula" as referred by the Ojibway) was home to the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory. From time immemorial, hunting and fishing were plentiful in this area. Archaeologist are able to find arifacts from Early Woodland Period (1000 BCE to 1000 CE) calling the culture that left artifacts in the Saugeen Ojibway Territory as the Saugeen Culture. Other than pottery, the projectile points called Saugeen Point are typical characteristics of the Saugeen culture. Consequently, associated with both the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory and the Saugeen Culture peoples were winter camps around Owen Sound, Cape Croker and the Collingwood area, as well as summer camps in Walkerton, Wiarton, Goderich, Tobermory and Red Bay. Traditional territory also included all of the Saugeen River watershed. Thus, places such as Tobermory, Meaford, Goderich, Cape Croker, Owen Sound and Orangeville are located in the traditional Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territory. The permanent settlement at the outlet of the Saugeen River which lent its name to the region and its people was called Zaagiing, meaning "at the river's outlet," i.e. "at the mouth of the river."
The Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory are a member of the Council of Three Fires of the Ojibway, Odawa and Potawatomi Nations. The Confederacy came to help in the Battle of Skull Mound and in the Battle of Blue Mountain. Though the Council of Three Fires often fought against the Iroquois Confederacy (or the Naadowe as they are called in the Anishinaabe language), the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory peacefully shared the territory with the Wyandotte/Wendat Nation who also made the area their home. The Ojibway Nation called the Wendat peoples Ni'inaa-Naadowe ("The 'Nadowe' within our homeland"), but the French referred to them as "Huron" and lent their name to the Lake.
People from many nations moved into Saugeen Ojibway Territory after the War of 1812. They came from Ohio and from the State of New York. As a result of the American Indian Removal Policies of the 1830s more people came from Michigan and Wisconsin. Some were on their way to the Manitoulin Island project. Some moved from Coldwater on the Narrows. Others came from the Toronto and Niagara regions after European and Loyalist newcomers affected their territory. Due to these influxes of people from other areas, the history of the original Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory is often confused with that of other Anishinaabeg who settled in Saugeen Ojibway Territory after the American Revolution. In addition, often confused together are the histories of those Anishinaabeg who settled in Cape Croker in 1854 with the history of the original Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory.
One of the earliest documents recognizing Nation to Nation relations between the Crown and Indigenous peoples, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 stated "Indian land" could only be sold to the Crown. However, the document did not differentiate between those who were the original resident of the land cession in question and those who settled as part of the refugee migration, which has caused long-held animocity among the Anishinaabe commuities located in the Saugeen Ojibway Territory.
In the Saugeen Surrenders, due to development pressures of the European Canadians, mainly in the form of farming, the Saugeen and Owen Sound Indian Reserve was ceded to The Crown. However, five smaller areas were reserved for the Chippewas of the Saugeen Ojibway Territory.
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