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The History of Ontario

The Beginning
Twenty thousand years ago the place we call Ontario was covered year round under fields of ice and snow. Gradually as the ice age came to an end the provinces distinct geographical appearances began to take shape. In the south the flow of ice and water created the fertile grounds of The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Lowlands. Farther north the rocky terrain of the Canadian Shield cuts a wide swath across the center of the province and contains some of the richest mineral deposits in the world. The Hudson Bay Lowlands lie to the north. The distance between its southernmost point, Pelee Island in Lake Erie, and its northernmost, at Hudson Bay, is 1,685 km (1,047 mi). Over time much of this area became covered with forests, and continued unspoiled and untouched for thousands of years.
The Native People

Ontario’s native people can be divided into two groups, separated by linguistics. There were the Algonkians and the Iroquois. The Iroquoian linguistic family inhabited the southern regions from around Lake Simcoe down through New York State. They included the Hurons, the Neutrals, the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Cayuga and the Seneca. The Tuscaroras migrated north from North and South Carolina after 1722, completing the band which would become known as The Six Nations. The Algonkian family which included the Cree, the Ojibway and the Algonquin people existed in the more northern regions. Many of the Iroquois allied themselves with the French while the more southerly Iroquois would align themselves with the British. By 1648, the southern Iroquois were conducting raids on the Hurons, looting and murdering their more northernly cousins. This would create a great rift between the Indian tribes for many years to come.

The Europeans came to this new land to prosper from the fur trade. However the diseases that they brought with them would decimate many native tribes and villages. The natives had never been exposed to these diseases and their immune systems had no way of dealing with the onslaught of chicken pox, tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, smallpox, measles, whooping cough and influenza. In the years between 1634 and 1640 it is estimated that over half of the Hurons, with an initial population of 30,000 were lost to disease.

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