Nodwell Iroquois Village plaque unveiled

July 16, 2016


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photo by Sandy Lindsay

(L) Heritage Committee Chair, Joyce Johnston, Committee Member Bill Streeter and Committee Member and Vice-Deputy Mayor Diane Huber

 The Saugeen Shores Municipal Heritage Committee unveiled a new Interpretive Plaque on Friday, July 15th (2016). The Nodwell Park Interpretive Plaque, located in Nodwell Park, 788 Highland Street in Port Elgin pays tribute the site’s rich aboriginal history.

Early in the 1900’s it became evident this site was archeologically significant.

While owned by Richard Nodwell in the 1950’s archeological investigations began and continued throughout the next two decades. During this time, it was determined the site had once been the site of an Iroquois village consisting of 12 long houses and surrounded by a double stockade. The Long Houses measured up to 139 feet in length and were constructed of a bark-covered pole frame. The village could accommodate some 500 people in the two to three acre site. The inhabitants had arrived in the early 1300’s from the east - possibly an area close to Lake Simcoe.

This is the only known Iroquois settlement in Bruce County and was approximately 120kms from any other settlement of their people. It may have been established to trade with other tribes from more northern areas of Ontario. The land was cleared of trees which were then used to build their long houses and stockades. The land was farmed to supply food including corn, tobacco and other staples of their diet. Fishing and hunting were also important activities.

After about 20 years, the people departed. Many theories exist as to why they left including fear of hostile attack, exhaustion of conveniently located wood and bark, and soil quality depletion through cultivation; or simply to return to their original native area in Simcoe County.

A full Archeological dig was undertaken at the site which uncovered fragments of pottery for cooking, smoking pipes, arrowheads, adzes, awls and netting needles. Weapons and tools of the Iroquois people were mostly made of stone and bone.

“This is such a unique and historically significant site,” says Chair Joyce Johnston. “We hope this plaque will help residents and visitors understand and appreciate the site.”

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Saturday, July 16, 2016