Indigenous Peoples, Canada, Simcoe County


Simcoe County, Ontario has one of the longest histories of contact between settlers and Indigenous peoples within Canada. Yet, this area remains understudied by historians, with much of the literature glorifying Canada’s first settlers, while emphasizing the “uncivilized” and “savage” nature of Indigenous peoples. This article tells the remarkable story of the Coldwater-Narrows Reserve (1830-1836) in order to reveal Indigenous life, culture, and presence in the region, while countering problematic perceptions of Indigenous peoples and addressing fundamental gaps in historiography. A variety of primary sources are explored, including archival maps, correspondence, travelogues, journals, and illustrations. This story demonstrates how the peoples of the Coldwater-Narrows Reserve created an enduring legacy of self-determination, which in turn led their descendants to continue their fight against the terms of the 1836 sale of the reserve land up until 2011, when this claim was at last settled by the Canadian government. Thus, this article highlights past accomplishments of Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as the legacies that these accomplishments have created.

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