This is Great Spirit Country!
A sacred journey from east to west from time immemorial.
A meeting place and a place of ideas and perspectives.
A spirit of survival and resilience.
The Mayans once said that the state of the Land is reflected in the state of the Mind and that the state of the Mind is reflected in the state of the Land. The landscape and its resources are the foundation for how people live and perceive themselves, and conversely our attitudes and behaviors affect the land.
Given the diversity and abundance of the nature in The Land Between, this place too has a very rich and extraordinary cultural heritage.
The openness and navigability of the land made it a ready travel route: The First Nations people used it as key east-west corridor. Early visitors and settlers chose this route to travel from Lake Ontario to reach the Ottawa river such as those during the war of 1812, or like Champlain, who was lead by Mississauga leaders across the region from the Ottawa valley through Paudash Lake and south to the Black River towards Lake Huron.
This ancient route is also an ancient and sacred journey that is marked by the Pictographs and Petroglyphs. These are the largest collection of glyphs in Canada. They communicate the sacred Teachings from the Creator. They communicate the walk or journey through life with Creator. They are living testimonies to the relationship that First Nations have held with Creator since time immemorial. These Teachings and this relationship with Creator are honored today.
It has been said by First Nation Elders that to live here was to know two worlds and that people had to be smarter but were also richer for it. This is because, if medicines were missing in one region, their counterpart could be found in the other region. For instance if blueberry was not in abundance, then the strawberry could be substituted.
The land, being open, supported hunting, and being strewn with waterways and lakes held an ancient fishing economy. Here, the American Eel, now extirpated, was within its northernmost range limit, and was a plentiful resource providing both food and tools. Learn about the American Eel.
Many of the names for lakes and landscape features are in Ojibwa still today, demonstrating through their meanings the knowledge and relationships that First Nations hold with this land.
The entire landscape is part of the the Traditional Territory of the Mississauga- this vast area was always stewarded and looked after. During the settlement “south of the border” the Haudenesaunee whose Territory was found south of Lake Ontario, and also the Wendat were pushed north. Aaniishinaabeg Mississauga shared this land with their cousins under special Treaties.
After Europeans arrived Treaties were also enacted which embodied the understandings and responsibilities to care for each-other and for the land. See Curve Lake First Nation’s official backgrounder on the Treaties of this Territory and The Summary of the Royal Proclamation: Mitchi Saagii Territory history and the Making of Canada
Traditional Territories are still honored and stewarded by First Nations as much as possible – despite the clustering of peoples on Reserves under the Indian Act, and despite that the Treaties have not been upheld and often not communicated by Settler-governments or leaders.
First Nations still honor their Traditional Teachings through their culture of sharing. Despite, and yet in the face of abuses, they still generously share invaluable knowledge and Teachings to their Treaty neighbours. This knowledge is fundamental to managing natural resources.
To visit a Reserve or contact the Curve Lake First Nation cultural centre in The Land Between, or to learn about the peoples, covenants and treaties that are the foundation and heritage of this landscape see Treaties
After the Immigration company of Canada invited settlement in these “back lands”, the lack of agricultural opportunities meant that many Europeans retreated to the south. This left many abandoned villages, whose shadows can be seen in ghost towns, ruins, or remnants. However, those that stayed were resilient and persevering. These were creative peoples and “jacks of all trades”. This resilience is evidenced in the current creative economy where The Land Between boasts the highest percentage of entrepreneurs for its population, than anywhere else in the province.
A growing appreciation of the splendor of the region grew, and its close proximity to large urban settled areas made it an easy recreational destination. As new roads were driven through the landscape, access for recreation and pleasure also grew — summer camps, resorts, cottaging, guiding, lead to a new way of relating to and appreciating the landscape.
Today, The Land Between today continues to be a meeting place of practices and perspectives; of the urban and the rural; the hunter and the non-hunter; of Liberal and Conservative; and of First Nation and Settler.
Explore the differences and similarities between these worlds. Watch our new documentary My First Shot
Archaeological, cultural and anthropological studies, chronicles and research are posted on our Science and Discoveries page