Colonization Road Ontario: A Timeline

This timeline highlights events related to colonization in Ontario from an Indigenous perspective. It is inspired by the documentary Colonization Road directed by Michelle St. John which reveals how “colonization roads” led to the colonization of Indigenous territories and the displacement of First Nations people. Because colonization is an ongoing process, this timeline is also an ongoing project that will change over time.

As you move along the road, you may click on events to learn more. Events are organized into four categories: Governance (blue), Resistance (grey), Colonization (red) and Knowledge (yellow).;xNLx;;xNLx;You may explore the timeline in the following ways:;xNLx;;xNLx;· Click on the ‘tool icon’ in the bottom right corner to view by category, change the view type, or search specific events or words.;xNLx;;xNLx;· Click on a year at the bottom of the screen to view events at certain points in history.;xNLx;;xNLx;· Use the back/next arrows on each item to read through the events in chronological order.;xNLx;;xNLx;· Or use your mouse to scroll back and forth.;xNLx;;xNLx;This timeline was created in partnership with Humber College’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Indigenous Education & Engagement and Algonquin College’s Learning and Teaching Services.;xNLx;;xNLx;Illustrations and logo design by Katie Wilhelm (RGD), member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. Find out more about Katie at

0000-04-01 17:24:35

Indigenous Presence and Creation Stories

Prior to contact with European settlers, the Anishinaabek, Mushkegowuk, Onkwehonwe (Iroquois), and Lenape have lived since time immemorial in what is now known as the province of Ontario. These peoples maintained distinct ways of being and complex social and economic structures that allowed them to thrive in these regions. Many creation stories from this territory speak to creation beginning on the back of a turtle, so North America is sometimes referred to as Turtle Island. Creation stories are one way that people pass on oral traditions and tell of how their peoples came to these regions. (Available in English, French and 7 indigenous languages)

0800-01-01 00:00:00

Anishinaabe Migration to Great Lakes

1142-01-01 00:00:00

Great Law of Peace (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy)

1142-08-31 00:00:00

Gdoo – naaganinaa/Dish with One Spoon Treaty

This wampum treaty formalized a peaceful agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe around the Great Lakes region and beyond to share the land and resources peacefully. This treaty still applies to today.

1200-01-01 00:00:00

Three Fires Council (Anishnaabe/Neshnabek)

It was at Niagara Falls that the Neshnabek disbanded into three distinct tribes. First were the Ojibwe, our Keepers of Medicine, migrating to the north and west of Lake Superior. Next was the Odawa, our Keepers of the Trade, establishing villages to the north of Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. Last to build a fire as one people were the Bodewadmi, known as Keepers of the Fire, migrating south to the coasts of Lake Michigan.

1492-10-12 00:00:00


Columbus lands on the Bahamian Island of Guahani (San Salvador) and encounters the Taíno peoples. (Note: never “discovered” North America). Columbus enslaves Taíno people for physical labour, sending a ship full of enslaved people back to Spain. Over the next four decades over 7 million Taíno die as the result of slavery and foreign disease.

1493-05-04 00:00:00

Doctrine of Discovery Papal Bull/Inter Caetera

Pope Alexander VI issued an statement allowing Spain and Portugal to colonize and enslave Indigenous territories and subjects.

1600-01-01 00:00:00

Fur Trade Alliances with French and other Europeans

The fur trade was essential to the economic and cultural partnerships between Indigenous and European traders. Beaver pelts were at the center of the trades in Ontario and Quebec.

1613-01-01 00:00:00

Two Row Wampum/Gä•sweñta’belt

Originally between the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee, this wampum embodies the fundamental idea underpinning all treaties in Canada: Non-interference, peace, friendship, and cooperation. This belt was also presented during the Treaty of Niagara in 1764 to reflect the ideology and intent of their agreements.

1615-01-01 00:00:00

European Missionaries Arrive

Missionaries (Récollets and later Jesuits) arrive in North America to convert the Indigenous population to Catholicism.

1620-01-01 00:00:00

Mission Schools for Indigenous children are established and run for over 200 years

Various Christian religious orders run mission schools. These schools are precursors to government supported residential schools.

1630-01-01 00:00:00

Beaver Wars/French and Iroquois Wars

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy sought to expand their territory around the Saint Lawrence River valley and lower Great Lakes region. Their aim was to monopolize the fur trade with European markets. This created a series of conflicts with numerous other First Nations, including the northern Algonquians, Hurons, and their French allies.

1639-10-06 13:42:31

Huronia Park, Midland Ontario

Home to several First Nations. In 1639 Jesuit priests founded a Roman Catholic mission, Sainte-Marie –the first European settlement to be established west of the pioneer communities in the St. Lawrence Valley. After increasing attacks from the Five Nations (Iroquois), the Jesuits and their followers burned the mission and abandoned it.

1648-10-06 13:42:31

Iroquois Destroy Huron/Wendat/ Wyandot Confederacy

Prior to 1600, the Wendat numbered about 20,000 to 25,000, but between 1634 and 1642 they were reduced to about 9,000 by a series of epidemics, particularly measles, influenza and smallpox. Around 1650, those remaining were dispersed from Georgian Bay and other regions by the Iroquois, mainly into Quebec.

1670-05-02 13:42:31

Hudson Bay Company Established

The Hudson’s Bay Company, a cornerstone of the early economy of Canada, established a monopoly and increased the number of goods in the fur trade. This altered Indigenous economic practices and trade relationships forever.

1687-05-02 13:42:31

Mouth of the Humber/ Carrying-Place Trail

The Anishinaabe people in south and central Ontario won many battles against the Iroquois in the Beaver Wars. After a successful French-led expedition against a Seneca village on the Humber in 1687 or 1688, the Mississaugas built a seasonal village on the west bank of the river and used it for summer hunting, fishing and farming. In the winter, the Mississaugas would move north along the Carrying-Place Trail to hunt for food and furs.

1687-05-02 13:42:31

Emergence of distinct Métis identity

Male employees and former employees of the fur trade companies begin to establish families with First Nations women. Ethnogenesis of distinct Métis communities along the waterway and around the Great Lakes region of present day Ontario. Métis in these areas are no longer seen as and do not see themselves as extensions of their maternal (First Nations) or paternal (European) relations, and begin to identify as a separate group.

1701-08-04 13:03:37

The Great Peace of Montreal

This ended decades of war between the Haudenosaunee and the French. 39 different First Nations from North-Eastern North America attended the two-weeks of ceremony, wampum exchange, and talks. The Dish with One Spoon is mentioned.

1722-01-01 13:03:37

Tuscarora join Iroquois Confederacy

Tuscarora, or Skarù∙ręʔ (“People of the Shirt”) became the 6th nation to join the confederacy. Many moved to the Grand River reserve who had supported the British during the revolution. The Tuscarora people who favored the British were given lands on the Grand River Reservation in Ontario.

1725-08-04 13:03:37

Peace and Friendship Treaties

Before the Royal Proclamation, a treaty-making process was in place between the British Crown, the Mi’kmaq, Passamoquoddy, and Wolastoquiyik of the Maritimes and parts of the Gaspé. These were not land-transfer agreements, but rather a way to share the land while protecting Indigenous rights to trade, fish, and hunt without hindrance, along with other provisions.

1755-01-01 13:03:37

Indian Department created

British officials create an Indian department to manage military relationship with their Indigenous allies.

1756-01-01 13:03:37

Seven Years War in North America (French and Indian War)

The Seven Years War began in North America then spread globally. It was the first global war that formed Canada and changed the world map. British victory established Upper Canada and began the colonization of North America by Great Britain.

1761-08-31 10:45:14

The Covenant Chain

The Covenant Chain is a long-established diplomatic alliance, once between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers, and later with the English colonists. The English word “chain” was a rough translation of what Irouoian languages refer to as “arms linked together”. Each party must commit to “polishing the covenant chain” and renewing the relationships periodically for mutual benefit. This relationship continues today. “First Peoples of the Great Lakes joined the British-Haudenosaunee Covenant Chain alliance in 1761.  When the British treated the region as conquered territory, the Anishinabe and other nations expelled British garrisons and settlers from most of the territory in “Pontiac's War.” As the war continued, the British government issued the Royal Proclamation [1763], a first step towards Crown Recognition of Aboriginal Title. After hostilities ended, First Peoples met with the British at Fort Niagara in 1764…”

1763-01-01 13:03:37

Royal Proclamation

Issued by King George III, this document laid the foundation for British occupation of the Americas after the 7 Years’ War. It affirmed that all lands were Indigenous lands until ceded by a nation-to-nation treaty agreement. This document is understood as the “Indian Magna Cart/Bill of Rights” and recognizes Indigenous inherent rights to land and to sovereignty/self-determination that has never been legally extinguished in Canada.

1764-08-19 01:22:55

Treaty Making in British North America

1764-08-19 01:22:55

Treaty of Niagara

Represented in the Covenant Chain Wampum belt, reflecting Indigenous Nations friendship and alliance with the Crown (Great Britain), it is a founding document of Canada. This belt reflected the acceptance of the Royal Proclamation by approximately 24 First Nations of the Great Lakes and Northeastern Woodlands areas in the Council of Niagara.

1784-08-19 01:22:55

Haldimand’s Tract at the Six Nations of the Grand River

Members of the Haudenosaunee (or Six Nations), who allied themselves with the British during the American Revolution, faced persecution in the years that followed. In 1784, Sir Frederick Haldimand, the Governor of Quebec (1778-1786), issued a proclamation that authorized the “Mohawk Nation and such others of the Six Nation Indians” to settle on a tract of land along the Grand River, “six miles deep from each side of the river” from Lake Erie to its head. About 2,400 Six Nations people relocated to the Grand River from their homeland in upstate New York. Today the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory has the largest First Nation population in Canada.

1794-08-19 01:22:55

Dundas Street

1794-08-19 01:22:55

The Jay’s Treaty

Signed between the USA and Britain, this allows Indigenous people from Canada to live and work freely in the USA and they do not have to pay duty for goods moved across border.

1805-08-19 01:22:55

The Toronto Purchase Treaty No. 13

The Missaugas (Anishinaabeg) conclude the transfer of parts of the north shore of Lake Ontario to the British, including the site of the Toronto Carrying Place (a trail that followed the valley of the Humber river).

1812-08-19 01:22:55

War of 1812

Approximately 10,000 Indigenous warriors fight alongside the British to defend their homes and lands again the Americans, notably Tecumseh.

1816-08-19 01:22:55

Assimilation Policies Begin

With the end of the military threat by the US, British administrators stopped viewing Indigenous nations as military allies and viewed them instead as burdens on colonial expansion. Assimilation policies begin.

1818-08-19 01:22:55

Rice Lake Treaty

Anishnaabeg of the Kawartha Lakes conclude the Rice Lake Treaty to open up lands north of Rice Lake to European settlement in exchange for rights.

1826-08-19 01:22:55

Credit River – Former Credit Mission Village

In 1826, the government built a village for the Mississaugas on their traditional lands overlooking the Credit River Valley. Mississaugas moved in 1847 to their present day location in Brant/Haldimand County.

1830-08-19 01:22:55

Detribalization Policy

The 1830 Detribalization Policies sought the termination of Indigenous rights, eroded Indigenous families and societies, and aimed to Christianize, integrate and assimilate Indigenous peoples. The aim of these policies was carried forward until the 1980s, and the repercussions are greatly felt to this day.

1831-08-19 01:22:55

Mohawk Institute (The Mush Hole) opens

The first residential school in Canada was founded in Six Nations near Brantford, Ontario. It earned its name from the bland porridge the students were fed.

1832-12-28 09:09:57

Métis families in Penetanguishene petition for land grants in the region.

1840-06-01 13:44:31

construction of Colonization Roads throughout Ontario

Colonization roads were constructed in order to allow settlers to areas of settlement in Ontario, including onto Indigenous territories.

1847-03-02 13:25:28

Six Nations Reserve established

Located near Brantford, Ontario, Six Nations is the most populous reserve in Canada, where all six nations of the Irqouois confederacy live, and sits within the land set aside under the Haldimand Tract.

1849-01-01 16:56:59

Residential Schools

Between 1849 and 1996, 150 residential schools were established. Funded by the federal government and administered by various Christian churches, these schools sought to remove Indigenous children from the influence of their families and communities, and eliminate Indigenous identities and cultures.

1849-12-31 09:09:57

Mica Bay incident

Métis and First Nations from present day Sault Ste. Marie and along the north shore of Lake Superior object to the Quebec Mining Company trespass on their traditional lands at Mica Bay because there was no treaty with the Crown in the territory. The company’s agents surrender without resistance. This becomes known as the ‘Mica Bay incident’ and leads to the Robinson Treaties (Superior and Huron) between the Crown and First Nations.

1851-05-08 16:56:59

Treaty annuities paid to Métis

HBC pays First Nations and “Halfbreeds” annuities under the treaties, as recorded in treaty annuity lists for the Lake Superior region.

1853-01-01 16:56:59

Public Lands Act (Canada)

The Public Lands Act, passed in 1853, permitted the granting of land (100 acres) to settlers who were at least 18. The government subsequently built over 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) of roads over the following 20 years to provide access to these grants.

1857-01-01 16:56:59

Gradual Civilization Act

The Gradual Civilization Act was an appeal by Canada to assimilate Indigenous people and eradicate Indian Status. It began as voluntary then became mandatory for those who met certain criteria.

1867-01-01 07:13:16


Indigenous people become “wards of the state”, under the new nation of Canada.

1870-01-01 07:13:16

Manitoba Act and Métis Scrip

The Manitoba Act of 1870 introduced Manitoba as the fifth province in Canada. The act contained protections for the Metis, including responsible government, bilingual institutions, and was supposed to guarantee property rights to Indigenous lands, but many of these “protections” fell significantly short of what was promised.

1870-01-01 07:13:16

Land Grants of Western Canada

1871-01-01 07:13:16

Numbered Treaties negotiated (settler colonialism)

The Canadian government legally assumed responsibility for the “protection” and “well-being” of Indigenous peoples. The duty of compensating Indigenous peoples for their interest in their traditional territories also fell to Canada. The treaty-making system that had evolved in Upper Canada in the years before Confederation was exported to the west and north. Further development of the treaty system was based more on economic practicality than it was on any conception of Indigenous rights.

1873-01-01 07:13:16

Major Treaties in Ontario were formed including Treaty 3, 5, 6, and Williams treaties

1876-01-01 07:13:16

The Indian Act (established)

The Indian Act is a primary law that governs the relationship between First Nations and the Federal Government. Criticized for its coercive, paternalistic and sexist policies, it has been revised many times, most notably in 1951 to allow religious practices that had been banned since 1880 (e.g. banned Potlatch and Sundance).

Colonization Road Ontario: A Timeline

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