Our Lives Revolved around the River

In winter months, extended family groups were dispersed throughout the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. Hunting provided the major means of subsistence in winter. A number of
large and small game, birds and fur bearing animals provided important sources of food and pelts for
commercial trade. Deer were abundantly available, and bear were also harvested although to a lesser
extent. Beaver and muskrats were important fur bearing animals whose pelts were traded in exchange
for European goods. However, these fur bearing animals were also harvested for food, and their meat
supplemented dietary needs of families.
In spring, families first moved to sugar bushes to tap maple trees. After the maple harvest, families congregated at the Credit River, the site of an important salmon fishery. Furs and pelts were also
brought to trade posts at this time. Fishing was supplemented by hunting small game and fowl, principally ducks, geese and partridges.
Summer provided an abundance of resources for subsistence. Women planted corn and other
vegetables, tended to crops and collected a variety of wild foods. Berries, mushrooms, roots, and where
available, wild rice in the fall, were important wild foods that could be preserved for winter months.
Fishing, supplemented by hunting, were the main economic activities engaged in by men throughout
summer months. By fall, people often returned to the Credit River for salmon fishing and for obtaining
credit (trade goods) from European traders prior to returning to winter hunting grounds.
Toward the end of the 1700s, growing Euro-Canadian settlement in the Lake Ontario region
started to interfere with the seasonal movements and resource harvesting activities of the Mississaugas
of the Credit. However, the growing villages and towns also provided some opportunities for the Mississaugas of the Credit to supply this population with food and manufactured goods through barter
sales. The diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe (wife of the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada)
details a number examples of receiving supplies of salmon, pike, geese, ducks and maple sugar from
barter sales by Mississaugas of the Credit in the 1790s.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *