(originally published in 1901, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol. XV, No.6: 141-151)
By T.W. Edwin Sowter
The evidences of Indian occupation that are met with along the Ottawa River, between the City of Hull and Pointe à la Bataille, on Lake Deschênes, consist, for the most part, of the prehistoric camping grounds that occur at frequent intervals along the shores of the lower part of the take.
Now, just at this point, the "practical man" as Huxley would call him, comes forward with the very pertinent query : "How do you know that these places were Indian camping grounds ?
In the first place, it may be said that the grim warriors of our brethren of the Indian race, who repose in their ancient burial places on Lake Deschênes, regard not such poetic license as that which elicited from a Newport skeleton the weird confession of an armored viking ; but these lords of the forest have left behind them such traces of their methods of living as cannot fail to be profoundly interesting and widely instructive to those who wish to study the conditions under which a primitive people were slowly struggling, upward and onward, along the highway of civilization.
In a former paper upon the "Archaeology of Lake Deschênes," reference was made, among other places, to the traces of Indian occupation that are met with at Raymond's Point, on the Ontario side of the lake opposite Aylmer, Que. Let us take this place as an example, and see if we can prove that it is the site of a prehistoric Indian camping ground.
At this point, following the water-contour of Raymond's Bay, the lake shore consists of a well defined outcrop of Calciferous limestone holding in great abundance the typical gasteropodean fossils of that formation.
Resting on this Calciferous outcrop, we meet with the ubiquitous Laurentian boulder, which the merest tyro in geology would recognize as the legacy of the great glacier which, in its descent from the Laurentian highlands, traversed at this point at least the present course of the Ottawa River.
Where the alluvial soil has been washed away, at high-water mark, the Calciferous rocks are thickly strewn with fragments of
black or dark-colored flints, from 2 to 3 inches in diameter down to the finest particles, such as may have been flaked from an arrow-head in the finishing process.
Mingled with these rough fragments are some that bear unmistakable evidence of having been worked, together with roughly as well as finely finished arrow-heads and spear-head shaped knives of the same material. In other words we find these implements, in various stages of completion, along with the raw material from which thev were fabricated.
The question which now arises, in regard to the presence of these flints, is somewhat similar to that once propounded by a novice upon seeing some large boulders at Deschênes station : "Have them stones been brought there or have they just growed "?
It is evident that this flint was not "growed" at Raymond's Point as it is not found in situ either in the Calciferous outcrop upon which it is strewn or in the contiguous Chazy, so that it must have been brought there, but from whence and by what means are other questions.
It does not appear to have been brought there by glacial action, as it is not found in the glacial drift on the main land or adjacent islands. It is not even found in the dark boulders which line the opposite shore of Chartrand's Island and which, a sapient friend of mine once suggested, may have been pine knots which had been washed ashore and petrified at the time of Noah's flood.
In the Trenton formation in the City of Hull, however, nodules of this flint are found in great abundance, especially along Brigham's Creek, both in situ and in detached masses of the same limestone from which latter they may have been removed with but little difficulty. Let some of this flint be broken up and mingled with similar fragments from Raymond's Point and I doubt if the most skilful geologist could distinguish the former from the latter by other evidence than the recency of the fracture.
This, therefore seems to be one of the several obvious reasons for supposing that the flint from both places is identical. That it was picked up or quarried at Hull or Ottawa and carried up the river by Indians who, at Raymond's Point, among places, fashioned it into their arrow-heads and knives. That the aforementioned
glacier did not take up the red-man's burden is apparent from the fact that it moved down the river instead of up, so that the flint could not have been carried to Raymond's Point by its agency.
If our practical man wishes us to give proofs of what we know about the direction of the glacial movement, we may show him the grooves below the boat-house on Mr. Watt's farm in the township of Nepean, Ont., and again near the Presbyterian Manse, at Aylmer, Que., where the glacial plough has furrowed up the rocks in its passage down the Ottawa valley. To prove that its passage was down, instead of up the river, a number of places may be shown, notably among which the one on Main Street, Aylmer, in front of the Methodist Church. Here, where a section of rock was laid bare by the water-works excavations, it ,was observed that boulders had been forced under the Chazy strata from the westward, leaving large masses of these beds hoisted up and dipping towards the east.
That the flint was not carried by white men is obvious, from the fact that the pale-face, on his arrival in this country, was supplied with his musket and steel knife and the only flints he carried were those for the hammer of his musket or the larger ones for use in the preparation of his fire.
And the palaeolithic Indian, it is only reasonable to suppose, went to the nearest and most convenient place to procure such material for the fabrication of his implements, and where it could be obtained in the greatest abundance with the least expenditure of labor, just as his civilized descendant of to-day will do when in search of rim ash or red willow for working into his baskets.
It is also a reasonable supposition, that the palaeolithic Indian had acquired such a knowledge of what was good for himself, as to take the precaution of carrying the raw material, for use in his primitive arts, to some such judiciously selected camping ground as Raymond's Point, where, from its strategic and secluded position, he would be the better enabled to stand upon his dignity and defend himself against an enemy, or make himself scarce as prudence or necessity might dictate. An Indian clung to life and wanted his days to be long in the land just the same as a white man, and his natural instincts warned him against sitting down in any position to flake out his flint instruments, where
attracted by the noise of his labor, an inquisitive member of some hostile tribe might come and look over his shoulder to see what he was doing and, incidentally, remove some of his hair, together with any tribal prestige he may have acquired as a cunning warrior.
And now for the reasons which point to Raymond's Point as an aboriginal camping ground. We have adduced what seems to be fairly conclusive evidence that the flint was brought there by Indians for purposes of palaeolithic manufacture. From the presence of finished and unfinished Palaeolithic implements in various stages of fabrication, mingled with the debris of the aboriginal workshop, we are convinced by circumstantial evidence, that this primitive industry was carried on upon the spot, just as much so as after an examination of the flat at the mouth of Breckenridge's Creek, higher up the river, we would recognize it as the abandoned site of a modern brick-yard. We also find the worn out and discarded celt, or stone tomahawk, and observe, in its blunted and dilapidated condition, the reasons which led its former owner to cast it aside for a new one.
Following the denundation edges of the alluvial soil, we find fragments of rude pottery made out of a mixture of clay and coarse sand or gravel, which has been imperfectly burnt and bears other evidences of crude fictile workmanship.
If our practical friend is desirous of knowing where the Indian procured the material for the manufacture of this ancient pottery, there is little difficulty in pointing out to him the source from which it was derived.
At Noël's Bay, Coghlan's Creek, Winter Point and several other places in the immediate vicinity, the clay and sand on the lake shore are mixed together in about the same proportion as in the fragments of pottery already alluded to and, as our primitive artificer was the graduate of a rough-and-ready school of art, he made use of this ready-to-hand matrix, instead of going miles out of his way to get better, as the fragments of his work most clearly indicate.
Another important feature of Raymond's Point is the presence of arrow-heads of what we might term foreign manufacture, for although, as a rule, the arrow-tips found at this place are made
from the Trenton flint of Hull or Ottawa, we sometimes meet with some that are made from a more compact and lighter-coloured flint than that found in the Ottawa district. And one reason why these latter seem to be of foreign rather than of local manufacture is, that we do not find in the debris of the Raymond's Point or any other Indian workshop on Lake Deschênes, any of the raw material from which they were fabricated.
Within the memory of the generation passing away, this was an ideal spot for the aboriginal hunter. The forest was alive with red deer, the bay teemed with fish and the adjacent creeks were well stocked with beaver, otter, muskrat and other fur-bearing animals. So that this prodigality of nature, in thus supplying the wherewithal to keep the wolf from the wigwam, together with the evidences of Indian occupation already enumerated, seem to be ample proof that the place was an Indian camping ground. And the foreign arrow heads would favor the conclusion that it was also a halting place for roving bands of natives, who made use of the great water highway of the Ottawa River.
Last summer, Harold Nelson, a student in Woodstock college, and a son of Mr. Frank Nelson of the Interior Department, at Ottawa, was good enough to send me some arrow-heads from Paris, Ont. In comparing these with those in my collection, I was surprised to find that some of them were of the same "make" as well as of the same flint, in color and texture, as what I have called the foreign ones, found a few weeks previously, at Raymond's Point.
The presence of flint implements of foreign, as well as of local manufacture on these palaeolithic camping grounds of the Ottawa River, seems to present an interesting field of investigation in comparative palaeolithology, that might throw some additional light upon the ramifications of intertribal commerce, or the migratory movements of the native races which occupied this country in pre-historic times.
It might be possible after an exhaustive study of the subject, extending over wide areas of occupation, to point with such a degree of accuracy either to the occurrence or to certain peculiarities of material or workmanship of palaeolithic implements, as to be able to identify them as the relics of this or that particular tribe
that may have been the temporary or more or less permanent occupant ot these pre-historic camping grounds.
The palaeolithic knife found at Raymond's'Point and described in the former paper on the "Archaeology of Lake Deschênes," as a "squaw's knife," is without doubt of Indian origin. This implement is also known as a "woman's knife" and is very often mistaken for a spear-head which it very much resembles.
This particular form of knife is not by any means peculiar to this part of the American continent, for it is found on the village sites of western Ontario and even as far south as San Geronimo, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico, according to an article on Aztec relics, by Mrs. Wm. Stuart, in the Ontario Archaeological Report of 1899. It is also met with amongst aboriginal tribes in the remotest parts of the world.
Since the spear, as a weapon, is supposed to have been unknown to our Indians, it is just possible that this implement may represent the survival of a knife-form that was, and is to-day, used by primitive peoples to serve the purposes of both knife and spearhead.
As an interesting instance, in this connection, of the same instrument serving different purposes in a rude condition of the arts, H. N. Moseley, Naturalist to the Challenger Expedition, informs us that the obsidian-headed spears of the Admiralty Islanders are used as knives, being cut off just below the ornamental mounting which acts as a handle. Col. A. Lane Fox also observes, in reference to these same implements, that "the shapes of the obsidian spear-heads found, just as they happened to flake off, are interesting as showing the natural origin of such forms and the remark that these spear-heads are used as knives reminds us of like customs in Africa where the Kaffirs, the Watusi described by Grant, the Fans of the Gaboon and others use their iron spear-heads in a similar manner and which accounts for the form of knife and spear-head arnongst savages being so commonly the same.
Since the publication of former reports, in the OTTAWA NATURALIST, upon centers of Indian occupation on Lake Deschênes, I have had the good fortune to discover two more ancient camping sites on the Ottawa River, one at Squaw Bay, in Tètreau-
ville, a suburb of the City of Hull, and the other at Powell's Bay, about 10 miles above Aylmer, Que.
I have also been informed by Mr. Gainsford, of March township, that from 1 to 2 miles from the entrance to Raymond's Bay, on one of the creeks that run into it, Indian relics such as stone celts, flint arrow-heads and pottery have been found in great abundance at different times by people living in the vicinity.
As the camping grounds so far examined have, without an exception, been situated on the high water shore line of the river, it would be extremely interesting to verify the existence of an inland village site such as Mr. Gainsford describes ; and I feel certain that, as my informant is a thoroughly reliable person, he has indicated a place where we may ultimately unearth a store of important information.
The slate knife, figured in the accompanying plate, was found at this place on the farm of Mr. John Armstrong, and was collected by George Burland of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club. Flint arrow-heads were also found in the vicinity by Albert Smith.
Second hand information is all very well in its place if you know the party with whom you are dealing ; but, I met a man last summer who has such a loose rein on his imagination that I fear he sometimes allows it to run away with his better judgment. My friend told me that he had found a large stone axe and the head and bust of a squaw carved in stone. When he took me to inspect these Indian relics, I found that the former was a piece of limestone that had a fanciful resemblance to an axe; but, as it weighed about 15 lbs it seemed to me that, if it could be proved that any pre-historic Indian could have wielded such a mighty weapon, it would confirm an opinion that is current among a certain class of our peopl, that there were giants in those days. The graven image turned out to be a mass of water-worn Calciferous limestone that some wag had embellished with a few artistic touches of red chalk. It occurred to me at the time that, if it were true likeness, the original might have been worshipped, without any imputation of idolatory, as there could have been nothing like her in the heavens above or in the earth beneath, for she must have been fearfully and wonderfully made. I have merely referred to the above for the purpose of showing how extremely cautious one
should be in accepting second-hand information without verification.
The worked flints at Powell's Bay, like those met with at similar places lower down the lake, have been derived, from the Trenton formation at the Chaudière. They are strewn along the river side of a long narrow rocky and sandy point that reaches down the river and shelters the mouth of a low marshy creek, which runs into the bay. This point, which is of Laurentian formation, is still a resort for trappers and fishermen.
The north shore of the Ottawa, at the entrance to Squaw Bay, is a bold outcrop of limestone which rises 15 or 20 feet perpendicularly from, and in places overhangs, the swift current of the river, a short distance below the Little Chaudière Rapids. The bay, which forms an indentation in this cliff of about 100 yards in width, extends northward, a distance of 8oo feet, to the southern end of Mountain street, or the foot of the declivity which slopes downward from the Hull Electric Railway tracks. The banks of both sides of the bay are bold and rocky, but not so abrupt as the main shore-line of the river. From the upper end of the bay right out to the rocky point which forms its southern extremity, the western shore is strewn more or less, throughout its entire length, with fragments of worked flint, just as we meet with them at similar places on Lake Deschênes higher up the river.
So far, I have only made a casual examination of this camping site, for the purpose of ascertaining its extent and general features, rather than for the discovery of such details as might throw some light upon its origin and subsequent history.
To all appearance, it seems as if this spot had been a landing place at the foot of an old Indian carrying-path, which led up to the head of that break in the canoe route of the Ottawa River caused by the little Chaudière Rapids.
There is no doubt that, in prehistoric times, there were periods of tribal inactivity, during which an Indian community may have lived in such peace and comparative security, at Squaw Bay, as to have led even its younger members to indulge in the contemplation of making old bones ; but the situation of the dwelling sites of these palaeolithic people bear indubitable evidence that no dream of lasting peace, ever found them off their guard
against possible contingencies, for these makers of flint arrow-heads and stone axes were, as the Pathfinder would call it, "judgmatical" in the selection of their camping grounds.
Occupying a strategic position, between the upper and lower portages of the north shore of the Ottawa, this rocky and well wooded inlet possessed exceptional facilities for the formation of an ambuscade, that would not fail to be taken advantage of under the conditions of primitive warfare.
Standing amidst the debris of this pre-historic Indian workshop, one cannot fail to be carried back, in imagination, to a time, then this intricate system of islands and channels, rapids and falls was clothed in the sombre garments of the primaeval forest. One pictures to himself the peaceful condition of this northern wilderness ere the once powerful Algonkin-Huron combination, that claimed sovereignty over it, had dwindled into insignificance before the superior military and diplomatic genius of the five confederated nations to the south of the great lakes ; ere the Algonkin name, which once carried terror to the council fires of its enemies, had become a term of contempt, through that lack of military organization which led to the downfall and final dispersion of that nation.
One sees a dense cloud of spray hovering over the spot where the downward sweeping waters take their final plunge into the lower river, with a green tree-clad eminence in the background, and is reminded that this place was known to the Mohawks as "Tsitkanajoh," or the "floating kettle ; while the Onondagas called it "Katsidagwehniyoh," or the chief "Council Fire."* So that either of these names may have been a shibboleth on the Ottawa during the closing acts in that tragedy of the middle of the 17th century, which resulted in the wiping out of the once dominant Algonkin-Huron confederacy.
But, by the subtle magic of these names, the retrospective scene is changed and the inner circle of the council fire of this ancient camping ground is occupied by the grim war chiefs of the Iroquois. For this wonderful race of sagacious warriors, in conformity with a well planned and far-reaching scheme of conquest, has sent war-parties to secure among other places the passes of the Chaudière and intercept the Huron traffic with the French
*See Ontario Archaeological Report of 1898.
p age 150
settlements on the St. Lawrence, whilst the main force of the confederacy is directed against their tribal strongholds in what is now western Ontario.
In imagination, this romantic and picturesque spot is transformed into a cleverly constructed ambush. Wary sentinels posted at the upper end of the portage pass the word that the enemy is approaching from the upper reaches of the river and is about to run the rapids. The council is broken up, the canoes are manned and with ready musket and uplifted paddle the warriors await the signal of attack. Once within the rift of the Little Chaudière and all retreat for the luckless Huron or Algonkin is out of the question. Retreat up the river is hopeless, for the foot of the portage is held by the enemy. Escape by the lower portage is equally futile, for the same implacable foe will intercept them before they can reach it, or overtake them before they can pass it. The attack is delivered with the usual results, and the Iroquois return to their concealment laden with the spoils of war, with scalps and prisoners.
Now the manufacturer of yellow literature would like to describe the torture and death of these prisoners at the hands of their captors ; but we know that the Iroquois were not always given to vengeance and that they adopted large numbers of Hurons that were thus taken in battle.
Mr. William E. Connelly, in his excellent papers on "The Wyandots," in the Ontario Archaeological Report of 1899, in writing of "the oldest branch of the Iroquoian family," informs us that the clan system in the Five nations was the feature of real strength. He goes on to say that : "The clan system was responsible for much of the fierce warfare made by one tribe upon another. It was a religious duty to keep the clan full, i.e. every name in the clan list of proper names. No name was allowed in ancient times to become wholly obsolete. The animal from which the clan claimed descent was always angry when these names were not in use, for they were not in his honor. To suffer a clan to become extinct was a reproach to the nation or tribe. It was followed by dire calamity. This both the old Wyandots and Senecas have often told me. War was often undertaken to replenish the depleted ranks of a decaying clan. White men were eagerly adopted and to such an extent had this practice been carried by the Wyandots that after the year 1820 there was not a full blood Wyandot alive. Few women and girls were slain in battle or tortured as prisoners even in ancient times. They were adopted into the different clans of the tribe."
"The Wyandots claim that as late as 1800 at least, the Wyandots and Cherokees made war upon each other for the sole purpose of obtaining women and children for adoption."