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First Nations
Before European Contact

The available archeological record evidences 10,000 years of civilization in Vaughan before the arrival of the European colonists.  Although mostly invisible to the untrained eye, former First Nations village sites can be found throughout the city, under the ground.   To protect the integrity of those sites they are unmarked so it would probably surprise many of the city’s residents to know there may have once been a thriving village with thousands of people literally where they are standing.


As this project focuses on Vaughan’s built heritage we will attempt to illustrate a few of the structures that would have been used by the people who lived here first.  To do this we can look at two of the most well known archaeological sites in the city based on readily available information.



Wigwams have been used by many First Nations people throughout Ontario.  







Longhouse remains have been found in many parts of Vaughan. 

"Anishinaabe family of Petaban seated in front of wigwam

Title:  Anishinaabe family of Petaban seated in front of tent

Credit: Library and Archives Canada; Reference: R16326-88-5-E, Box number: 2349; Item ID #5318737; Photographer: Waugh, F. W. (Frederick Wilkerson); place: Long Lake, Ontario; date: c.1916.

Paul Kane Wigwam on Georgian Bay.jpeg

Title:  Wigwam, L. Ontario, Paul Kane 1846

Credit: Stark Museum of Art; Object #31.78.178, Accession Number: 1965.2.998; Item ID #5318737; Medium: oil on paper; Artist: Paul Kane (Canadian, 1810-1871); place: Georgian Bay, Ontario; date: 1845.

A wigwam, or wiigiwaam in the Ojibwe language, is a semi-permanent domed dwelling formerly used by certain First Nations people and Native American tribes. 


The wigwam is not to be confused with the Native Plains teepee, which has a very different construction, structure, and use.

These structures are made with a frame of arched poles, most often wooden, which are covered with some sort of bark roofing material. Details of construction vary with the culture and local availability of materials. Some of the roofing materials used include grass, brush, bark, rushes, mats, reeds, hides or cloth.

Adapted from:

Wikipedia contributors,

"Wigwam,"  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

(accessed July 6, 2021).

Late Iroquoian Longhouses

This illustration shows an approximation of the way  longhouses would be clustered in a village like the one unearthed at the Seed-Barker Site.

(Hollway, Don. The Woods Runner: Étienne Brûlé by Don Hollway, )


The Seed-Barker Site is found in Boyd Park.  Hundreds of thousands of artifacts have been recovered from the site which was a large Late-Iroquoian village in the 1500s.  

Title: Ontario Archeological Society, members at the Boyd Conservation Park, archaeological dig, on the eastern bank of the Humber river, opposite the south end of Boyd Park. Vaughan, Ont.

Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Public Library; call number 2001-2-381; Photographer Chirnside, Ted; date: 1957.

Boyd Conservation Park_edited.jpg

Ruth Marshall at the Boyd Woodbridge archaeological dig with a snake effigy pipe about 600 years old (AD.1300)

Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Public Library; call number 2001-2-380; Photographer Chirnside, Ted;

date: 1957.

Huron-Wendat Longhouses
at SKANDATUT (*pre-contact)

Skandatut is located within the Kleinburg community and was a significant Huron-Wendat village in the 1400s.

The archival photographs below illustrate various reconstructions of longhouses built by the Huron in the Southern Ontario region.


Longhouses In Winter

Credit: George Mully / George Mully fonds / Library and Archives Canada; Date:1978-1988; Reference:  R11220-5-5-E, Volume number: 1Item ID number: 5098485; Copyright: Estate of George Mully

"Huron Village" in Midland, Ontario

Credit:  Bibliothèque et Archives Canada/Fonds de l'Office national du film/e011176064; Photographer: Taylor, Herb; date: 1955.

Village Huron.png
For more information about Skandatut see these links:

Additional Resources

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