Death of Huronia. Arrival of United Empire Loyalists (1784). Jennet’s Uxbridge

“When the first white settlers arrived in Pickering and Whitby, Uxbridge and Reach, nothing of two hundred years of Huron, Iroquois and French occupation remained. Only the Mississauga ‘stood in the way’.” Leo A Johnson

Disease and civil war smash and forever destroy Huron’s great civilization covering the upper country–variously Québec, Upper Canada, Canada West, Ontario. Surviving Huron people join other First Nations. (Joseph Thayendanegea Brant declares his ancestors are Huron/Wyandot whom the Mohawk nation adopts). 


By the 1770s the Six Nations occupy the Grand River and portions of New York and Ohio.  

Other than Iroquois what nations remain north of Great Lakes after the destruction of Huronia?

Chippewa and Mississauga nations live in greater Québec, soon partitioned into Upper and Lower Canada (1791). The Mississauga own Toronto. Small bands of various nations hold Uxbridge, Rice Lake, Mud Lake and Scugog.  

Skies are dark. Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries European wars involve First Nations. Post American Revolution and until 1812 foreign settlers from a brand new United States and after 1815 foreign settlers from heavily populated nations overseas want Indigenous uncleared land for massive colonial settlements. British policy in the Canadas is to scoop up everything Aboriginal. And to lie about claims until settlers’ numbers are such that Indian protests can safely fall on deaf ears.

Leo Johnson writes “The replacement of the Iroquois by the Chippewas and Mississaugas was of great importance when white settlers began to take interest in the fertile lands of Upper Canada. Whereas the Huron and Iroquois had erected elaborate palisaded villages, cleared extensive fields and maintained a land title system which placed great value on personal and tribal [sic] ownership of land, the Chippewas and Mississaugas erected only temporary habitations, did only a little crop growing and attached very little value to a particular piece of land. To them, land was something that was permanent and autonomous—to be used, but not possessed in the European [or Huron and Iroquois] manner. Because they had little sense of ownership, when settlers began to arrive in large numbers after 1783 [post American Revolution], the Mississauga freely sold their rights to their lands with little conception that they were being permanently dispossessed. In contrast the Five (after 1720) the Six Nations of the Iroquois south [and north] of Lake Ontario clung tenaciously to their lands in New York State and were dispossessed only with great difficulty.


“Meanwhile events elsewhere were shaping the future of Ontario County. In 1720 the French intensified their control of Lake Ontario by building Magasins Royals (government stores) at the mouth of the Niagara and Humber Rivers. While these were closed in 1729, Fort Rouille was built, again at the Humber, in 1749. With the burning of Fort Rouille by its occupants in 1759 (to prevent its falling into British hands) the last vestiges of French control in the Ontario County area ended. The forests quickly reclaimed the blackened embers of forgotten campfires, and the remnants of French trade goods, previously exchanged for the precious beaver pelts, were soon discarded or buried with their owners. When the first white settlers arrived in Pickering and Whitby, Uxbridge and Reach, nothing of two hundred years of Huron, Iroquois and French occupation remained. Only the Mississauga ‘stood in the way’.”


Smallpox carried by the Jesuits does as much (maybe more) to eradicate Huronia than the Five Nations’ alliance with English. In fact smallpox and measles and other European diseases brought to North America by, say, Vikings and Basques, wipe out entire Amerindian civilizations, pre-Columbian exchange.

Mississauga know more about land ownership than Johnson credits but it’s certainly true weakened numbers of Indigenous cannot withstand or stop the abrupt  insertion go great populations. The Crown’s Six Nations allies take over the territory within the Haldimand grant. 90 000-odd English Loyalists flood into western Québec, there to construct York  (Toronto) where once stood Fort Rouillé. The Mississauga, therefore, make deals with the Crown but they never do surrender  the huge hunks of territory the government claims.


Leo A. Johnson. History of the County of Ontario, 1615-1875. Whitby: The Corporation of the County of Ontario, 1973, p19.

Feature photo shows routes taken by United Empire Loyalists (UEL) who leave the United States for British held North America. In 1784 Western Québec (post 1791, Upper Canada) has nary a single English-speaking community.

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