Where Two Rivers Meet
Ten thousand years ago the once massive ice sheets that covered the Mattawa area receded north, but it would be several thousand years more before humans occupied this region. The late-prehistoric Shield Archaic peoples [A.D. 500-1600] lived here prior to Eurpean contact as evidenced by recovered stone implements, arrowheads and fire-cracked rocks. These artefacts show they were intimately aligned with the natural world upon which they depended for survival – their lives evolved around hunting, fishing and gathering. Legend has it that many important spirits also inhabited the landscape at prominent lookouts and rock faces along these rivers.
Long before the arrival of the French and English fur traders, the confluence of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers served as a natural meeting place for the well established Amerindian trading network. This ‘meeting of the waters’ became an important trading destination for Cree from the north, Hurons of the south and west, and the Algonkians of the east.
Ultimately the fur trade was the start of 300 years of change for the Native peoples. Alignment with the two competing European powers created both opportunities and conflict, forever altering the nomadic lifestyle.