The Mississaugas of Scugog Island
First Nation Origin and History
The Mississauga Nation, a branch of the Ojibway of the Three fires Confederacy, moved southward from the Sault Ste. Marie area around 1695. Moving into southeastern Ontario with the fur trade, the Mississauga established territorial family hunting grounds as far east as Kingston and as far north as Lake Nipissing. The Mississaugas, over time, settled into community groupings at mouth of the Credit River, on the shores of Rice Lake, on the shores of Little Mud Lake and on the shores of Lake Scugog.
From the 1780's, the forefathers of Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation were participants in peace and friendship Treaties with the British and other Treaties dealing with aboriginal title. The last, a modern-day Treaty which was seen by the Ojibway as a method of resolving past breaches of Treaty promises by the Crown, was signed in 1923. The traditional territories covered by the Treaties were from the Grand River basin to the Niagara Peninsula on the south and southwest, along Lake Ontario to the Gananoque area on the east, northward along the Ottawa River, parallel with and across Lake Nipissing, down the French River, along Georgian Bay roughly back to the Grand River basin.
At the time of the 1818 Treaty, forefathers to the current Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation occupied an island of approximately 1206 acres in Balsam Lake, Bexley Township. They later occupied land on Scugog Island itself, part of Scugog Township, and Indian Trading Point on the shores of Lake Scugog, now part of Mariposa Township. In 1834 the construction of a dam at Bobcaygeon flooded the marshes around Scugog Island and, particularly for health reasons related to noxious gases created by the flooding, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island relocated to the Coldwater reserve where they remained from 1835-1837.
For more than 100 years prior to major European settlement around Lake Scugog, the Mississaugas camped, traded, hunted, trapped and fished. The bounty of the land in this area included deer, black bear, beaver, muskrat, fox, cougar, wolves and numerous kinds of fish. Most plentiful were wild rice and maple sap for maple syrup and these were the main staples of the Ojibway diet at that time.
In 1834 a transfer of 800 acres of land for a sum of 600 pounds occurred between the Crown and the Mississaugas for two parcels of land on the northern inland portion of Scugog Island. The Ojibway people were disappointed and disheartened to learn that they had to pay for merely a portion of the land, which they had previously occupied for many years. While in the past this land was known as an Indian Reservation, our description today is a 'First Nation', which implies that the designated territory is reserved solely for the use and benefit of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation is a small aboriginal community with a very real understanding and appreciation of the concept 'survival of the fittest'. Geographically it is the closest First Nation to Metropolitan Toronto, the largest city in this country. Ironically, it is one of the smallest First Nations in Canada and despite the assimilation process and numerous other obstacles the Mississaugas have had to overcome, the population has grown to the highest ever recorded. Further to the credit of the people, their determination and progressive attitude will ensure this community ample opportunities and accomplishments in the years to come.
The community is dynamic and development has occurred at a tremendous rate over the last ten years. The Great Blue Heron Charity Casino will be the central business venture providing strong economic development and future success for the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
Visit the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation website at www.scugogfirstnation.com