Local Indigenous Stories

This resource came out of the desire to answer the prompt:

"How might we deepen our connection to Indigenous studies through the use of local stories?"

The hyperlinks below will take you to online resources ranging from maps and photos to text and video that may serve to help you think about how local Indigenous history may be woven into any curriculum unit.

Students leaving the Lisa Hardie Trail.

Don Valley Historical Mapping project showing present map vs York 1860 map.

The Diary of Mrs. Simcoe.

Resources regarding the local history of the area surrounding Havergal College

First Story - a local blog researching and preserving Indigenous history of the Toronto area, including links to information about longhouses at Allenby PS and other interesting and very local stories.

Circles of Time - reference to the McDougall family's interaction with the Indigenous people who camped on the same grounds Havergal is situated. When the document opens, scroll to page 243.

Indigenous routes through High Park - Archeological evidence indicates that long before John Howard called it “High Park”, this land had been travelled and inhabited by thousands of Indigenous people since the last ice age glaciers receded 11 000 years ago. Indigenous feet and paddles created the trails and water routes that would eventually become the networks of European fur traders.

Mapping Toronto from an Indigenous perspective - Jon Johnson works with First Story Toronto to share stories about the city from an indigenous perspective. He told us about why the Humber River is important to indigenous peoples, and how to use the Driftscape app to access these stories.

11,000 year old footprints - In the fall of 1908, while building a waterworks tunnel east of Hanlan's Point in Toronto Bay, a work crew came across 100 footprints in a layer of blue clay. The prints appeared to have been left by people wearing moccasins – 11,000 years ago.

5,000 year old fishing weir - The Mnjikaning Fish Weirs are one of the oldest human developments in Canada. These fishing weirs were built by the first nations people well before recorded history, dating to around 2500 BC.

Diary of Mrs. Simcoe - Entire online diary of Lady Simcoe, the wife of John Graves Simcoe. Her notes describe life in Canada from 1791 to 1796, including her trip to York (now Toronto).

Mastodon and Mammoth map of Toronto - Sites that approximate where mastodon and mammoth remains have been historically found in Southern Ontario. Sites are colour-coded to correspond to the counties or municipal regions in Ontario. For more information on each site, contact the Earth Sciences Museum at the University of Waterloo.

Lost River Walks - Lost River Walks encourages understanding the city as a part of nature rather than apart from it, and to appreciate and cherish our heritage. Lost River Walks aims to create an appreciation of the city’s intimate connection to its water systems by tracing the courses of forgotten streams, by learning about our natural and built heritage and by sharing this information with others. Burke Brook is identified in the resource.

Don River Valley Historical Mapping Project - an online interactive map of the Toronto area from 1857 to present.

Lisa Hardie

First plantings on the woodlands path.

1992 Summer restoration.

Norman Hardie: A Short History of the Havergal Ravine and the Lisa Hardie Trail

The ravine has a history that goes back many years before settlers arrived in the Toronto area. At that time the landscape was covered entirely with deciduous Carolinian forests. As the first settlements grew into villages, and then a town and now into the city that we know as Toronto the forests were cut back to make way for houses and roads and all that goes with development including Havergal. However some of the original forests have survived in Toronto’s magnificent ravine system, which includes the Havergal ravine and the Burke Brook, a tributary of the West Don River, which runs through it.

In 1987 a nervous Lisa Hardie entered Havergal in Grade 7. Her mother Nell had always loved flowers and gardens and she was immediately attracted to the ravine, which was largely used as a “disposal site for the results of cutting and pruning elsewhere in the school grounds. In 1989/90 Nell and another parent Pinkie Franklin began to develop the concept that the ravine should be incorporated into the school fabric as a living classroom and a teaching tool. While the woodland area, through which the Burke Brook ran, had been adversely affected by the trampling and dumping, which had destroyed much of the natural cover, a fine variety of deciduous trees and some pockets of native wildflowers remained. Advice on the renaturalisation of the woodland was sought from ecologists and botanists from the Toronto Field naturalist Society and the Civic Garden Center. Advice was also sought from the University of Toronto Environmental Studies department on the question of soil pH. Happily the natural pH and low salt levels were considered acceptable for the reintroduction of deciduous woodland plants.

In 1991 the layout and planning of the Woodland area was established. Havergal ground staff laid out wood chip paths. Since trampling was recognized as the biggest cause of wildflower destruction low cedar railings were placed along the pathways to demarcate the paths from the planted areas. The Woodland shed was painted with wildflowers “was an arborist. Jose recognized that while the Woodland was dominated by undesirable Norway and Manitoba Maples it contained a strong representation of native Carolinian trees. His vision was to slowly eradicate the Norway and Manitoba Maples and replace them with Carolinians so over time the Woodland would become an arboretum containing all the Carolinian trees that were present when the settlers first arrived in the Toronto area. This would be a unique teaching tool for the school, City and Province. While the soils and climate of the Woodland may not allow for this dream to be fully realised, the concept remains an enticing target.

The school has commissioned and accepted a plan to work towards this objective. The 2012 Grade 6 class built a wonderful outdoor classroom in the Woodland. The 2013 Grade 6 class have produced a magnificent eBook on Biodiversity. The stewardship of the Woodland has been accepted by the school, staff and most importantly the students. May the dream of a Carolinian arboretum be fulfilled.

Norman Hardie

May 2013

Click here to access the entire book in iBooks (for iPad or iPhone)