he Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation moved into southern Ontario from their former homeland north of Lake Huron around the year 1700. The Mississaugas are a branch of the greater Ojibwa Nation, one of the largest native groups in Canada. From time immemorial, Mississauga people secured all their needs from the surrounding environment (“Mother Earth”); hunting and fishing and harvesting plant materials for food and medicines. Wild rice, an important food staple, grows in shallow water and was gathered in late summer using birch bark canoes.
Mississauga people lived traditionally in single-family dome shaped or conical birch bark wigwams.
The move into southern Ontario followed the 17th century dispersal of the Wendat people or, “Hurons” as the French named them. These once numerous people together with their close relatives, the Petun and Neutrals, were first ravaged by European diseases and then around 1650 were attacked in their villages by another native group from south of Lake Ontario.
The first Mississauga people to settle in the basin of Lake Scugog around 1700 appreciated the bountiful resources available in the virgin forests and unspoiled wetlands. Game and fur animals, waterfowl and fish abounded, and wild rice grew in profusion in the shallow waters. The people flourished in this paradise for nearly a century until the British arrived with their insatiable appetite for aboriginal land. Having just lost the American War of Independence, British refugees came flooding north into Upper Canada seeking new land.
By 1830, with strangers despoiling their hunting lands and with rising water from a new dam on the Scugog River at Lindsay flooding their rice beds, the Mississauga people moved away at the government’s insistence. Some went to Lake Simcoe and onto the new reserve at Coldwater, and some moved to live with their friends at Chemong Lake (also called Mud Lake). Scugog Chief Jacob Crane went with the group to Mud Lake.