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.