Course Outline B – Indigenous Histories of Ontario

Fall Term, 2017 – Room 204
Friday, Sept. 15-Friday, Nov. 17, 2017
Mornings, 9:50-11:50

Course B (revised)       Indigenous Histories of Ontario

Co-chairs: Norbert Hartmann and Diane Johns

Alison Norman

Course DirectorAlison Norman, Research Advisor in the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation as well as a research associate at the School for the Study of Canada, the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University.

Week 1: Sept. 15 – In the Beginning: Creation stories and life before the arrival of the Europeans
In this first lecture, we will look at how Anishnaabe (Ojibwe) and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people understand their creation and their arrival in Ontario. We will also discuss how people lived before the arrival of Europeans, including means of subsistence, social structures and religion.
Slides for Week 1 available on request to course members at

Week 2: Sept. 22 – First Contact: Arrival of the Europeans and settlement in Ontario
This lecture will briefly cover the arrival of key Europeans in what became Canada, and the early relationships that were forged between Indigenous peoples and European explorers, missionaries and traders. We will also discuss the impact that these new arrivals had, especially in terms of religious conversion and disease. Finally, we will look at the Jesuits in 17th century Huronia.
Slides for Week 2 available on request to course members at

Week 3: Sept. 29 – We are all Treaty People: Land surrenders and treaties
Once Ontario was in the hands of the British after the conquest of Quebec in 1760, the British began to negotiate land surrenders and, later, treaties, with Indigenous people. These foundational documents are key to the relationships between Indigenous people and the government today. This lecture will look at some of the key land surrenders, especially for what became Toronto.
Slides for Week 3 available on request to course members at

Week 4: Oct. 6 – Reserves and Missions: Lives of Indigenous people in the 19th century
As part of the treaty process in the early decades of the 19th century, Indigenous people moved to reserves and began to farm, attend church and send their children to day schools. We will look at reserve life and the changes those communities went through. The Rev. Peter Jones and the Credit Mission will be discussed in this lecture.
Slides for Week 4 available on request to course members at

Week 5: Oct. 13 – Indigenous History through Art and Material Culture
This lecture is a heavily illustrated introduction to ways of learning about the past through historical drawings and paintings, archeological artifacts, and material culture objects. The lecture will cover a wide time frame, and will include discussion of art and objects made by Indigenous people, and some representations of Indigenous people by European artists.

Week 6: Oct. 20 – Residential Schools: The impetus, implications and legacy of residential schooling
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has brought attention to Canada’s dark residential school history. This lecture will give an overview of the residential school program nationally and then focus specifically on southern Ontario residential schools, including the nearby Mohawk Institute at Brantford. We will consider what happened in these schools and the intergenerational impacts they continue to have today.

Week 7: Oct. 27 – The Great War and Political Organizing in the Interwar Years
This lecture will look at the response to the Great War from Indigenous communities in Ontario, especially the Six Nations of Grand River, including the enlistment of men and the women’s home front work. Political changes in the interwar years and the efforts to form the League of Indians of Canada will also be discussed.

Week 8: Nov. 3 – Six Nations of the Grand River – the Role of Women
This lecture is a case study that focuses on the role of Haudenosuanee (Iroquois) women traditionally, in a matrilineal and matrilocal society, and then how colonialism impacted their roles. I argue that women maintained power and worked to improve their community in numerous ways in the first decades of the 20th century through their churches, their work in schools, and through patriotic and voluntary societies.

Week 9: Nov. 10 – Toronto’s Indigenous past and present
This lecture will examine the long Indigenous history of Toronto, including the Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishnaabe people who made this region home over many centuries. We will discuss the importance of the Carrying Place Trail and the Rouge River Trail, early exploration and the fur trade, the arrival of the French and English, and how Indigenous people continued to occupy this land even after it was all surrendered and treatied. Indigenous people did not disappear and remain an important presence in Toronto today.

Week 10: Nov. 17 – World War II and Beyond: The fight for Indigenous rights in Canada
In our last lecture, we consider the changes in “Indian” policy in Canada, the White Paper and the activism of Indigenous people in Ontario, especially over land and women’s rights. We will look at the Ipperwash standoff, and end with the Idle No More movement, the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Suggested Sources on Indigenous Histories of Ontario

Useful and informative websites

Government Reports (online)


  • Aboriginal Ontario: Historical Perspectives on the First Nations, Edited by Ed Rogers and Don Smith. Dundurn Press (1994). It can be bought directly from the website, as a book or an e-pub, or a pdf.

And for Canada, see:

  • Olive Dickason and David T. McNab, Canada’s First Nations: a history of founding peoples from earliest times. Toronto: Oxford University Press, numerous editions.

On the Huron-Wendat:

  • Bruce Trigger. The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660. McGill-Queen’s University Press. (1987)
  • Kathryn Magee Labelle. Dispersed but Not Destroyed: A History of the Seventeenth-Century Wendat People. UBC Press (2013)

On treaties:

On the Mississauga:

  • Brian Osborne and Michael Ripmeester. “The Mississaugas Between Two Worlds: Strategic Adjustments to Changing Landscapes of Power,” 259. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies 17, no. 2 (1997): 259-91.
  • Donald B. Smith. Sacred Feathers. The Reverend Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby) and the Mississauga Indians. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987.
  • Donald B. Smith. Mississauga Portraits: Ojibwe Voices from Nineteenth Century Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.

On the Six Nations of Grand River, see:

  • Susan M. Hill. The Clay we are made of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2017.
  • Michelle A. Hamilton and Keith Jamieson. Oronhyatekha: Security, Justice and Equality. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2016.
  • Charles M. Johnson. The Valley of the Six Nations: A Collection of Documents on the Indian Lands of Grand River. Toronto: Champlain Society Publications, 1964.

On education, memoirs:

  • Basil Johnston – Indian School Days
  • Wab Kinew – The Reason We Walk
  • Edmund Metatawabin – Up Ghost River
  • Joseph Merasty – The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir
  • Bev Sellars – They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School

On education, history:

  • Graham, Elizabeth. The Mush Hole: Life at Two Indian Residential Schools. Waterloo, ON: Heffle Publishing, 1997.
  • Miller, J. R. Shingwauk’s Vision : A History of Native Residential Schools. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996.
  • Milloy, John S. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1896. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
  • And again, see the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has numerous reports on the website, including the final report of the TRC – 7 volumes.