Native Communities in Cootes Paradise

Archeological studies have shown that the land surrounding what is now Cootes Paradise, was a frequent encampment for successive cultures of aboriginal peoples from approximately 9000 B.C. until A.D. 1650. The heaviest period of occupation occurred from A.D. 500 to 1500; this period is referred to as the “Princess Point Culture”.  When the first French explorers visited the western tip of Lake Ontario, they found a region populated by native people. For many generations, native peoples took advantage of all the game the Harbour provided; Cootes Paradise was a particularly rich source of fish, birds, and other game. Plants, such as wild rice, were also commonly foraged but were eventually replaced by harvested maize kernels. Archeological evidence such as maize kernels and pieces of pottery, confirm that by A.D. 500, native people had begun to supplement their predominantly foraged diet with farmed maize. Over the next several hundred years, the Princess Point cultivators-hunter-gathers began to move further inland and set up semi-permanent dwellings – transitioning from nomadic low-level food producers to more established Iroquoian “farmers”.  

Photo Credit: Hamilton Public Library